Sowing Seeds of Happiness


Billy Ferguson/Fourth Estate

Social distancing has created a vacuum. You can either choose to fill it with boredom, negativity and angst, or if you’re able, you can make something out of it. A flood of TikToks, “Tiger King” and countless naps can fill the canyon of boredom as we try to distract ourselves from worrying about the world. But, as lovely as Doja Cat is, we can only bop to “Say So” so many times. Then what? My advice: turn to gardening. 

Sure, it may be a hobby of the elderly, but aren’t we all at least partially retired at this point? 

I was thrilled to be welcomed home early by the beautiful rolling hills of Tennessee. Smells of springtime and allergies rushed into my nose only to be pushed out by four forceful sneezes. I traded out my suitcase for a shovel and dug into my bonus months of gardening. 

Every year, my dad and I plant rows of sunset-orange marigolds. Zinnias explode out of the ground in fireworks of magenta, canary yellow, fuschia and tiger orange. My mom’s dinners pop with flavor from our homegrown dill and tomatoes. 

Gardens became my home away from home. I’d float along the sidewalks to class in tandem with the butterflies visiting Mason’s wildflower havens. I found peace on a bench in the Innovation garden while the sunlight danced across my textbook pages. The U.S. Botanical Gardens offered me sanctuary in the Washington swamp. I even had a small collection of plants in my otherwise bland dorm room (may they rest in peace). 

I always seem to return to gardens, but why? What makes nature so special?

For one, it’s absolutely beautiful. Daisies seem to laugh with each other, sharing a secret I’ll never be privy to. Moonflowers and morning glories twirl up the fence, reaching in vain to join the soft clouds parading through the sky. As you water the black-eyed susans, the sun plays with the water, painting a mesmerizing rainbow that lasts only a second.

In a world ruled by chaos and chance, it feels reassuring to have control over something, even if it is just a jumble of flora. Your fears wriggle out of your consciousness like worms from the ground during a thunderstorm. 

Unlike a paper you work tirelessly on only to be handed in and forgotten about, the plants are there for you (at least for the season). They depend just as much on you as you do on them. Nature may be their mother, but you are their caretaker. 

While we’re safe at home, I encourage you to pick up gardening, or another relaxing hobby. Sow seeds of happiness into your life, and soon smiling sunflowers will replace your worry-weeds. Sometimes, the frost snaps your plants, and your bushes have frosted tips and sing in a boy band, but the sun will come out, and they’ll grow back stronger. Just like the plants, with proper care and love, we’ll be back stronger than ever.