The Pruned Truth

I am in no way a gardener.  It could be because the first “plant” I attempted to start when I moved away to college was a bonsai which is perhaps not the best starting point for this black thumb. A delicate planting, pruning and nurturing process needing wise and careful care. I was in a new city thousands of miles from home making my way and was lucky to brush my hair before I ran out the door let alone nurture a bonsai. I cried the day I had to face facts and throw away its dead and brittle carcass.

Though I still haven’t been incredibly successful at growing an abundance of plant life, I have realized there is one thing the “experts” do that I missed: pruning. There is a beautiful rose garden where I work and there continues to be a few hardy blossoms and green leaves throughout the rainy winter and near the end of the season I am always horrified after the pruning. There stands a naked, stunted, and pathetic looking plant. How on earth could that be helpful ?!

I learned, however, that pruning improves circulation, rids the plant of any dead matter, and redistributes the plant’s energy to the healthy branches to create new growth and better blossoms.

Yes, but it’s so bare and ugly in-between – isn’t there another way?

Without pruning the plants grow wild, feral – dead leaves and branches leech energy and the roses suffer and wilt easily. The whole purpose of a rose plant to blossom boldly withers under the weight of untamed chaos.

Perhaps I stop and ponder the pruned rosebush because that’s how I can feel when growth is pushing forward in my life. Laid bare full of sharp edges and brown stems. Wondering how this could possibly lead to green growth and a rainbow of blossoms. The sharp sheers cutting back what has since withered and is sucking the energy from my soul. The very things I may think are “good, strong branches” are the very ones that need to be clipped to make way for new growth.

The hardest part? Facing the fact that pruning is a necessary step for health and growth. Pruning away the fear, the dead-end job, the abusive relationship, the negative influences, the stuff that becomes normal and convinces us staying put is easier than moving forward. That’s because the sheers have a sharp pinch. Unpleasant nip. Pain. The shears of taking a risk to follow a dream, the shears of deciding a relationship is too toxic and threatening your well-being, the shears of seeking outside professional help when some branches have wrapped tightly around your neck in the shape of addictions, depression and grief. Though other people are essential to support and even point out the hard places that need to be pruned – only you can decide to stand – ragged, and shed the dead weight, chase those dreams of the big, healthy blossoms you’re capable of.

Here are the shears – you decide what kind of gardener you want to be.  

 -Jennifer Anderson is Content Director of The Authenticity Project, you can contact Jennifer at