Day 64: Transplant

I’ve had an avocado tree in my office almost as long as I have been at my school–around seven years, I’d guess. It started out as an avocado seed suspended by four toothpicks in a peanut butter jar full of water–something I did with and for the boys when they were around pre-school age. It shot out roots and sprouted leaves, just like it was meant to do. After time, it got too big for its own toothpicks–and faced with the choice of throwing it in the yard as compost or putting it in a pot, I decided to keep it growing.

It stayed at home for a little while, maybe a few months, but as it got taller, I decided to bring it into the office, and that’s where it’s been ever since.

I have to say, that tree has had a hard life. On a fairly regular basis, it goes through a major stress that just about kills it–usually around the winter holidays, when the school cuts the heat in the building and no one is around to water it.

This year, it got hit hard. The tree stands around four feet tall, and after a major die-back, it has two, precarious sprouts and four shriveled leaves. It looks so bad right now that I’m going to save you from having to look at such a depressing picture.

So I figured it was time for a make-or-break move. I haven’t moved it to a new pot for some time, and it had definitely outgrown its container, so today I decided to re-pot the avocado. Either the tree would thrive in its new home, or it would go the way of all things….

As I was thinking about what I planned on posting for today, I had to ask myself: is transplanting an avocado tree really an experiment in living simply? Here’s why I answered yes to that question and why I made this simple act today’s point of focus.

It really comes down to this: other than me, that plant is the only other living, breathing regular occupant of my office. As odd as it may sound, I actually care about this plant, and I don’t want to see it die. So now it becomes a matter of doing whatever I need to do today to support its living, and to experience the hope that those actions embody.

And there’s a secondary point here as well, perhaps just as important: in order to care for this plant, occasionally I need to get my hands dirty. Granted, there are lots of people who get their hands dirty every day at work, but mine is not that kind of occupation. Don’t get me wrong–I love what I do; but there is something refreshing about feeling the dirt in my hands in a place where I am so unaccustomed to touching earth.

In transplanting the avocado tree, I also managed to transplant myself, if only for a moment, into a very different kind of experience of being in the day.

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