Conversations In The Garden-On Living with Uncertainty


“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.  Delicious Ambiguity.”  ~Gilda Radner




There is one thing I know that is definite about life….we are all going to die someday.  Now I know this is not a major revelation nor even a pleasant thing to think about.  But the realization of this fact recently caught up with me.  Prior to that, this fact was pushed far down into the nether reaches of my brain so I didn’t have to deal with it.



Talking about death was scary because for me there was nothing definitely known about what happens to us when we die.  I also didn’t want to leave those I loved, and there was so much I still wanted to do with my life.  But the fact that I am going to die someday was always looming somewhere in my brain even if I resisted it.



And dealing with the death of loved ones, I think was even more painful because I couldn’t DSCN5808accept the finality of death.  That sense of loss was too great for me.  So I always pushed it away.  Recently, it has been continuing to dominate my thoughts.  Perhaps because of my mother’s failing health.  And perhaps because another birthday is coming closer to another decade done for me.



These thoughts had been weighing on me, and it was finally time to face them….to deal with them as we each must do in our time.  And when I ran across this quote, everything suddenly changed for me…becoming clearer.



I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.  ~Brené Brown



And reality hit me square in the face….I had been limiting myself, my life.  Not really living…wrapped in deep fear, and dipping deep into unhappiness many days, all because I couldn’t deal with the uncertainties of life.  And maybe too because the only certainty was not such a pleasant prospect.



DSCN5795As a gardener, I face uncertainty every season.  When winter yields to spring, I am never sure what damage will be shown once the snow melts.  What flowers and plants will have succumbed to nature’s wrath and the natural process of dying.



In gardening it is an accepted fact, this life and death cycle.  If you don’t accept it, you won’t be gardening for long as the disappointment can be too great and defeating for some.  But not for me.  I have learned from my mistakes, and the ravages of nature that are out of my control.  I have shifted my perspective, and learned to accept each season as it comes, no matter what happens and enjoy the garden knowing it is never the same year to year.



So why does it seem easier to accept uncertainty in my garden?  I think because the joys I have found in gardening far outweigh any disappointments, and maybe make the successes of the flowers that present themselves so much more meaningful.



I have even come to enjoy the stages or seasons in my garden.  The first signs of new life DSCN5811and focusing on the beauty it brings as we get into the many flowers of spring and summer.  And learning to love the fading autumn beauty of my garden, still alive and exquisite setting up new life as it turns to seed.



These stages of life in my garden have become an inspiration for me.  They present themselves in each day as the sun begins to lighten the sky, until the last rays of light fade bringing the beauty of the stars at night.  I appreciate the fullness of each part of my day as new experiences dawn, and my body breathes in the life each new hour brings.



And I have begun to notice myself in each subtle shift this year.  I have learned that while I know there is a winter in my garden, as there is in my life, I don’t have to perseverate on it.  Instead, I can acknowledge that my time, like my garden, is limited, but it is in the moments between my birth and death that I find my greatest joys and fulfillment…this is where I choose to reside, to bloom and grow until my last breath.  Seeking the uncertainty where that delicious ambiguity resides.




Note:   In the Language of Flowers, daffodils represent uncertainty.  I decided to feature daffodils that were hit by a snow storm last year, and still continued to go on blooming brightly.  When they were weighed down by the cold and snow, I was uncertain if they would survive.  There was a beautiful quality about these daffodils even as they faced death.  But in the end they showed their resilience and strength as they went on to live their lives fully in my garden.






I leave you with another thought about uncertainty.  Feel free to download this photo and share.


All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

32 Replies to “Conversations In The Garden-On Living with Uncertainty”

  1. Oh yes.
    The garden, with all of its imperfections AND its regular miracles is a healing place for me. And I too need to translate its lessons into the rest of my life.
    And choose life – with all of its uncertainties, its mess, its chaos and its tragedies in preference to an existence.
    Thank you for an eloquent and beautiful reminder.

  2. Oh Donna, what a beautiful, thoughtful post and meaningful photos ~ the strength of the daffodils in overcoming winter is such a great lesson to persevere ~ to carry on even in the midst of uncertainty and remain hopeful. I needed to read this today. You are truly a gifted and inspirational writer. I’m sorry to hear your mom is not well and send you hugs and prayers, my friend.

    1. Thanks for the good wishes Loredana….and it pleases me that this post helped you today….I am overwhelmed by your kind words of praise too. Thank you my friend.

  3. Beautifully written with lovely and illustrative imagery.

    I’m loathe to admit this, but my gardening failures have taught me so much more than my successes. The vulnerability of being a beginner to the practice, having my efforts out in the world for all to see as things thrive (or struggle), it has all provided wonderful lessons in relinquishing the illusion of control.

    1. I completely agree with you Deb…I have learned more by the failures….they can be a struggle, but oh the feelings of success mean so much more after the failures. Thanks for your wonderful compliments.

  4. Hi Donna, I am not looking forward to death however I can have certainty about my future in Heaven because I accepted Jesus into my heart and strive to live for Him. This can give peace of mind.
    Hugs, Beth

    1. Yes death can certainly make us a bit apprehensive about living, but as we each find our way toward living our lives happily and peacefully, we can have peace of mind….hugs to you Beth!

  5. Before the passing of my mother, I was not aware of death or even thought about it. To me life was an infinite ocean. After her death and as I saw death and experienced, I was down with such thoughts; now and then also I go down with such thoughts but for fleeting seconds only. I’ve come to realize that life is all about “this moment.” It’s no use to think about future as you don’t know what lies ahead. It’s no use to think about past and regret anything. Rather live at the moment, and enjoy every second of it; As I’m writing this, it’s past noon and the date is April 16, 2015. This moment will not come to my life ever. Once today is over, April 15, 2015 will be gone forever from my life. So, not only death is certain and through death we will be gone forever is certain, but time is also certain and it is also certain that time also goes away forever never to return again. Thus, consider each moment very precious. That’s the philosophy that I’ve embraced and/or trying to embrace.

  6. Hi Donna, I think I feel the same as you and death really is a very scary prospect, I can’t bear the thought of anything happening to my family, even constructing a coherent answer to your post is hard. I admire you for thinking this all through. When I think about my own death I think of the circle of life and as a gardener hope whatever is left of me goes to nourishing the ground.

  7. thank you so much for this post and for sharing these thoughts with us. Your words really rung true with me, particularly since I lost my father and my mother-in-law last year, and my husband and I are now parentless. It bring it all into focus doesn’t it when one is caring for a sick parent. I know. And I am certainly at a cross-roads in my life when I know the time is right to jump and do what I want to do with my time – to experience, explore and to be truly me.
    Thank you so much. Have a lovely weekend ahead. Happy gardening. and thank you for stopping by my blog earlier this week and for your comments.

    1. Yes Jill as we lose our parents, our lives change and take on new meaning….I am glad I am retired and can now explore my life…I thank you so much for stopping by and leaving your thoughts and sharing your story ….I wish you a lovely weekend!

  8. “So why does it seem easier to accept uncertainty in my garden? I think because the joys I have found in gardening far outweigh any disappointments….” What a way to view LIFE as we live it day by day, Donna. I do get it, of course, because in less than 2 months I’ll turn 70. I don’t fear it at all but I must say it’s the first time in my life when “growing older” has seemed…different. Maybe it’s because Dad died at 78 and Mom died at 80. I’ve never been afraid of death, for whatever reason, and even though I know we can die any day for any reason, I suddenly feel closer to death than ever before. It’s a very strange feeling, neither good nor bad. Just strange.

    Thanks, as always, for sharing the lessons from your garden!

    1. Well I would never know you are reaching 70 ginnie….you are a great role model for how we should look, move and live at 70 my friend….it is strange as we age and think about growing older….and you are correct, it is not something to fear, maybe just recognize it and continue to make the most of life ….

  9. Donna, I’m quite sure that seeking the uncertainty where that delicious ambiguity resides is a brave decision. To become comfortable with uncertainty seems a hard task for me though I’ve been trying for a few years and it’s been getting better, yet the discomfort is still significant. I love your daffodils and Brené Brown’s words!

  10. I have read many accounts written by people who lived through life-threatening illnesses that they expected to kill them (and have experienced this myself) and what they all seem to have in common is the discovery that accepting the inevitability of death makes life’s small daily moments so much sweeter. What attracts me to gardening is not only the way that it helps me to (literally) “stop and smell the roses,” but also the way that it connects me to a circle of life that I find both comforting and inspiring.

    1. Perhaps had I not shied away from those personal accounts Jean, I may have come to the same conclusion sooner…but I am a slow learner in life I have found, and I am OK with that…I feel the same way about my garden…especially watching wildlife. There is so much life and death with wildlife…those lessons have been helpful.

    1. Not at all Michelle…we each have a different path and evolve along that path. I faced death through a different way not even knowing I was dying at the time…and I was lucky. I did not have to stare it in the face as you have…so no I don’t believe I am more evolved….I am just beginning my journey and you are part of the inspiration my friend.

  11. I’m glad I came late to this posting…so many WONDERFUL comments to read! I was especially drawn to KL’s philosophy…and one that I try to embrace as well. Lots to think about…

  12. You have put into words many consternations that, I suppose, are visceral to all of us and, as you say, “the one definite thing” we all struggle with. It is part of the human condition. You would think that knowledge would unit us – and yet, it seems to be used (at least in times of oppression and war) as a tool to coerce us to conform to the will of others. It is a subject area that evokes a lot of contemplation and a certain amount of disquietude, it is true – though the garden analogy was a lovely metaphor and I found the piece ended on a soothing and serene note.

  13. The phrase “living each day as if it is the last” is a good way to approach each day. The day comes where life ends, but no one knows if more or better comes after. I choose to believe every step forward is better in some way.

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