This weekend has been a big family weekend, with my brother and his family coming down from Burlington. They are bigger gardeners than even we are, so the conversation turned to the spring season, what had done well and what was lagging behind. It has been cool, without surprise frosts but all the things that like some heat are taking their sweet time while all the things that benefit from an extended cool period (like spinach) are going crazy.
I mentioned how this year, for the first time in a long time, I had failed to go into the spring with an established planting of spinach or even a new round sowed as early as feasible. I was using the hoophouse to axe out blanks until mid April, and the intensity of it this year had me questioning if it was even worth trying to squeeze in a little sowing of spinach in the corners. I felt like I was using the space to the max already. And then when I cleared out of the hoophouse I convinced myself that it wasn't worth planting spinach because it was just going to warm up and it would bolt and we'd get barely any life out of the planting.
As it turns out, with the long cool spring, we would have done quite well if I'd just taken the half hour to get it done. And that is kind of the point, because as I was relating this to my brother and sister-in-law, it occurred to me that this very diversification, that means that if you plant a little of everything that each year some stuff will do poorly and other stuff will do great, that same principle is actually at work in all areas of life. You don't know what the weather will be so you hedge your bets by planting a bit of everything, and that way you know something will work out. Similarly, you don't know how life will turn out, so you hedge your life-professionally and personally- so that even if some stuff doesn't pan out, other stuff will. Friends come and go in ways that you can't control, so make a lot of them. Some work opportunities succeed while others don't for reasons as inscrutable as the weather, so have lots of irons in the fire.
The benefit of this sort of diversity is so obvious that we often don't even see it. Instead, we convince ourselves that we know what we want, or are choosing quality over quantity, or are following our passion. But I think we are fooling ourselves. We are as much in control of the outcome of any individual part of our lives as the tomato controls whether or not there will be a late frost that nips it in the bud. The thing we CAN control is how many shots at success we give ourselves.
So plant that spinach, because you never know. Nurture those friendships you've been neglecting. Send that exploratory email, start that pipedream. Much will fall by the wayside, but even the most difficult growing season is a goldmine for something. And if you don't appreciate the bumper crop of zucchinis the world has bequeathed you when you would have preferred basil and potatoes, roll up your sleeves and get planting.
In the diversity is your success.
My blog has evolved into a series of short essays on the nature of entrepreneurship, craftsmanship, and their overlap. If either of these topics is something you think about, you will probably like this.