So one day I got all existential in the garden…

So, this post isn’t as garden related as perhaps it should be seeing as it is garden blog. However, this is what I thought about while transplanting a load of plants today. That must count for something.

AND, just in case you are only reading this for gardening tips…skip to the end.

So there I was, moving plants from here to there and back again, pondering some articles I had read this morning via friend’s posts on Facebook. I was thinking how I had really enjoyed the articles but when I went to share them all of a sudden I shrunk back from the computer, mentally slapping my own hand. “Don’t post those articles silly Mrs Quirke. People might think you’ve taken to bed. People might think you’re off in America hugging trees and trying to find yourself”.  And I realized I was afraid of my Irish friends. Afraid they would worry about me and more likely take the ‘piss out of me’ when I go back in a week. They would worry that I had gone all sappy and soft, worrying about things like happiness and the human existence.  Because in Ireland, as Ciaran’s ma said it “Sure, what does happiness have to do with anything”.

I have been back in the States only just long enough to re-acquire my American accent. I have been here, working away in gardens, doing the American thing – potlucks and potato chips, 60-hr weeks and begging for more, acquiring Apple products and hankering for more.

This hankering has had me thinking for the past five years that I have been in Ireland. The longer I have lived there, the more gob smacked I am, upon my return to the States, at what incredibly well trained consumers we Americans are. This is something I have struggled with because every time I leave the States I feel more or less content with everything I have and the minute I come back my Amazon wish list doubles or triples in length.

I remember my little brother going through his own philosophical phase. I remember his despondent comment: “I feel like my value as a person is based purely on my value as a consumer. How much money can I spend.”

Well, I thought that was a bit dramatic, but fresh off the flight from Dublin, fresh out of a country in the throes of a deep recession where consumption is more akin to ‘did you have enough to eat last night’, I could see what he meant.

So, this brings me back to those articles I read this morning. They were fantastic. They hit the nail on the head about how we need to just be ourselves and not worry about what others think or what the media tells us who we should be. And I got all nostalgic for Ireland because in Ireland, no one has realized they might not be themselves. The innocence and naivete is so charming.

No really though, I find it refreshing and comforting to know these places exist. These places like Ireland and probably the rest of the world. I feel privileged to know that I can get away from the obsession with trying to figure ourselves out and then when we do, getting caught up in the next wave of fad diets, self-help books, six pack abs, cleanses and essential electronics to keep track of our heartbeat/footsteps/calories/headaches/sneezes, just to be back at the start again, Who Am I Again Stage, when a new trend comes along.

Im pretty sure in Ireland the most important thing to keep track of is: how many people are in the family, are they all sitting at the table for Sunday dinner and if they are not, how many miles away are they. There is a direct relationship to how far away they are and how guilty you are allowed to make them feel about not being at the table.

It’s just that maybe my little brother was right in a way. If we are most valuable as consumers then we need to buy. We get told what to buy through advertising but therefore are at the mercy of what’s for sale. And we end up defining ourselves by what we buy.

Don’t get me wrong. I have things. Lots of things. and I like new things and want more things as much as I loathe to admit that. And yes, I bought some ridiculous things to bring home to Ireland. But I enjoy bringing these crazy things back to Ireland because it’s funny. It’s laughing at consumerism. It’s laughing at myself. And really, no one can believe you can buy that stuff.

Stuff like Banana Guards and tape dispensers shaped like high heels.

I enjoy bringing these things back and having a laugh and making fun of us Americans. But, once we’ve done laughing, it’s a relief to huddle around the fire or in the one warm room, because no one could afford to fill the oil tank. To be drinking cheap prosecco from Lidl out of mugs and jam jars and just taking a head count, see who is missing. Just having a laugh. No advertisements. Little money to buy anything even if there were.

It has made me appreciate that there is another way and another place.  And I know we can do it right here at home in America. It’s just a matter of shutting out the noise.

SO there it is. Its not advice or answers or probably even that coherent. But more just a thought that being ourselves is much easier than we are led to believe. The rest of the world is doing it.

It is also a clear sign that I shouldn’t be left alone in the garden for too long.

As for the garden tip of the day: Plant more Asters and plant them in large groups. They are one of the most incredible flowers this time of year. Also, it’s a great time of year for transplanting.

– Mrs. Quirke…I think


One thought on “So one day I got all existential in the garden…

  1. Ma says:

    Rita, this is true for me too. I LOVE your writing. Makes me miss Ireland again and want to go back again soon! Mrs. Quirke is a great name for your blog! We get a newsletter from the farm that delivers our veggies. Thaddeus writes it and it is beautiful about the farm, the people, all that is growing and about the challenges that arise. Reading it always lifts my spirit, just as what you just wrote! I am so glad Ireland exists and that it always belongs to the people who love it. Ma

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