The burgeoning of an early spring here in Roanoke made me recall this
essay you wrote in high school. I wanted to share some of your own words with those who follow the story of your abbreviated life. We miss you every day, perhaps even more so now, when the landscape is awakening and filled with life.
Reader’s Journal #3
11 September 2006
“My Philosophy of Life”
This weekend, my mom told me that my chores would involve outdoor work instead of the usual indoor vacuuming. I was not thrilled about this change from my typical routine and had a bad attitude when I first knelt down to begin gardening. Once my body finally adjusted to the heat and my hand movements developed a circular pattern to spread the soil, I grew comfortable in nature next to my mom. As I thumped the earth around the roots of the flowers, my mind began to wander. It was then that I realized how plants are very similar to people.
Just as people need certain things to survive, plants do as well. A young plant needs serious attention from a gardener until it grows strong enough to thrive on its own. A gardener must position the plant in an area where the sprout will receive just the right amount of sunlight; however, too much sun will cause the plant’s leaves to shrivel up and eventually it will die. Regular water is also a necessity required for plant survival but too much water will wash the roots right out of the ground and kill the plant. After the plant has been placed, and nurtured, the gardener has to step back and let nature run its course. The plant still requires some nurturing and care, but survival is up to the plant. Some seeds never sprout, some blooms shrivel up and die unexplainably, and some plants never seem to grow to the expected size and splendor. There is only so much tending a gardener can do and the rest is up to nature and the plant. A person must be carefully nurtured and have good values instilled in him when he is young and begins maturing. Childhood is a “make or break it” stage in development where the individual is very fragile; therefore, parents must raise their kids with the best intentions. Parents must introduce tools for success to their children at a young age, for example, stressing the value of a good education. If a parent is overly emphatic and insistent about school, though, a child might reject learning altogether. Informing kids about the hardships in life is also something that a parent must do; however, if the parent reveals too much about suffering, the child could become overwhelmed and fearful of the world. Protection from overexposure to danger is necessary to a certain extent to maintain innocence, but there is a fine line between being protective and smothering the individual one tries to protect. Parents lay a foundation for their children, but after a certain point, it is truly up to the child whether or not he wants to thrive. Some kids have many opportunities presented to them but never take advantage of them, some kids drop out of high school, and some kids fail to reach their full potential. There is only so much a parent can do and it is really up to each child to lift his head up and reach for the sun.
I watched my mom clip dead basil leaves and I felt even more confident that my newly discovered philosophy of life was correct. My mom taught me about life and raised me to uphold certain values, but now I’m a senior in high school and I’m starting to make decisions for myself and emerge as my own person. I will always remember what she taught me and keep that knowledge in mind as I make independent decisions. Now I can only hope that the flowers we planted will do the same – but even if they don’t, I still have experienced a growth of insight as well as greater closeness with my mom through this simple gardening project.