You only get one You. While I like to compare my body to a garden, a car, or a well-oiled machine, it’s not. The difference is, if I don’t take care of my car, I can get another one. If I let my garden go to weeds or find out that the soil is all rocks and salt- I can go and garden somewhere else. But my body? This is all I get. It’s more like having one car all your life; only one garden in one place- and the climate that comes with it. There are no new car lots at which to cash in or trade up, no farmer’s market to substitute for the tilling and planting you have to do yourself. That’s the body.
If I knew that I would never get another car in my life, I would be more conscientious about changing the oil. I would really worry about the paint at the first small sign of rust. I wouldn’t throw boxes of books on the leather seats as often just because I think leather is “tough.” I would finally build a garage. I wouldn’t so readily hand the keys to just any old body. I would get upgrades when I needed them so that the car could keep up with the changing times and road regulations. I would give my car a name and treat it like a living thing- because I would understand that my care for it dictates other opportunities in my life.
If I knew that I had only one garden to provide food or beauty in my life, I would finally fix the fence to keep the rabbits out. I would fertilize the soil more often. I would plant flowers as well as food to feed both body and soul. I would weed routinely rather than waiting until they have taken over the world. I would learn more about gardening, and be more thoughtful about what I planted. I would learn what grows best in the soil and climate I have. I would be more cognizant of the fact that “low maintenance” doesn’t mean “no maintenance.” I would spray the apple tree before the bugs got in. I would cultivate its natural beauty. I would deliberately rotate crops to allow certain portions of soil to rest each year so that the garden didn’t grow weak and tired of producing endlessly; smiling until its leafy, fruity, viny face hurt, finishing reports, and dragging around the responsibility of feeding the world, heavy as rocks.
I only get one Me. If I don’t care enough to eat well, then my arteries will clog up. If I don’t exercise and run my motor, it will rust. If I continue to let everyone else dictate my life and chew up all my sprouting peas and carrots, then there will be no food for me- and none to share. If I don’t rest and let the engine cool down, and insist on good routine maintenance, then… I only get one Me.
Cultivation of a great garden is deliberate. It may seem that healthy plants grow well on their own, but when you look closely, it becomes clear that they are responding to a very specific set of conditions. Be intentional about maintaining the conditions that produce good physical, mental and spiritual health. Embrace the natural beauty that results. You only get one You.