It’s one of those catchy phrases on T-shirts and shared Facebook posts, and it’s so beautiful in its metaphor. Grow where you’re planted. Like a flower or a bush, a tree or a lettuce seed that sprouts exactly where we dig it into the dirt, without qualm or question about its purpose, its path, or its pursuits.
But we humans, we’re very different. We yearn to find The Right Path, The Dream Job. We work hard in one channel while training our eyes on another direction, and wasting precious hours of bright sun and cool breeze pondering what it would be like if we went another way.
Over the past six weeks of intense refugee resettlement public relations work I’ve done on behalf of a client, I’ve thought about how I sit and wonder if I am in the right career, while I write about people who have no choice but to abandon the only home they’ve ever known to flee to safety in strange lands and pray that some nation will take them in and give them a new chance at citizenship.
For the 19 million refugees in the world, there is no choice but to start over and to do their best with what they’re given. No choice.
I met one man with four young children who repeated again and again how happy he was, how grateful. He didn’t lament all that he’d been through, and he had been through a lot. He just expressed gratitude for safety, for a home, for an end to persecution.
I’ve done this what-if dance for years. I’ve wondered if I should take a job somewhere rather than be self-employed, if I should return to writing and teaching instead of focusing so heavily on public relations, if I should ramp up or slow down.
I’ve wondered. Pondered. Yearned. Lamented. All the while working incredibly hard on behalf of wonderful clients.
Yesterday, we walked over snow-dust-covered forest paths, up and down wooded hills, in the sanctity of white sunlight and cold 28-degree wind. We talked and we were silent. Blood beat in our chests and our cheeks reddened from the exertion meeting wind.
For two miles in the wilderness, all was perfect. It did not matter nor even arise, the contemplation of another life path, another way. The moment was the moment, and it was good.
Grow where you’re planted. This is the soil in which you are tucked. Suck the nutrients from the dirt, drink in the sunlight, burrow into the restful night. Grow where you’re planted.
Isn’t that the ultimate mission for each of us? Yes, there may be bigger and better and more innovative opportunities on the horizon. But to discount what is right here right now is a disservice to the beauty of destiny.
Thursday night, at the press conference that I coordinated, which was attended by some 50 people and revealed in news outlets around the world within hours of its conclusion, I realized that I have grown where I was planted.
No matter the circumstances that brought me here. I have flourished under the conditions of my environment and grown to my potential and beyond. There is no need to clip my branches or dig up my roots. I cling to the earth in tight fashion, one with the environment, a blend into my natural habitat.