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Murray Bowen, the founder of Bowen’s Family Systems wrote in the 1980s that we were entering a period of Societal Regression brought about by high anxiety over limited resources, over-population and the rapidity of changes. We could add to that now the emotional reactions to global warming, wars, racial and religious contention, and the immediacy of social media. We desire the quick fix and instant gratification.

What is it that I can do to lower my own anxiety without adding to the feelings of overwhelming fear and helplessness in my world?

I can stick with and persevere practicing the mastery skills I have learned that reinforce my own sense of security and worth and value. For instance, the 15 inches of rain, that came within two weeks back in June and July, have not only contributed to the rapid growth of my okra plants but also the taking over of the garden by large weeds and grass bunches. It would be easy to give up and let the weeds and grasses stop my gardening this fall. NO! I will do what I have done most years. After I pull up the purple peas, I will take one row at a time plus a middle or two and cut down or pull up every weed and bunch of grass. There is no quick fix. 

Right now I will pick the Purple Hull Peas and shell them even though some only have a few peas per pod. It will take over an hour to shell a small mess. My fingers will feel sore and my hands will ache. These peas are my wife’s favorite vegetable. Yes, the okra will continue to need to be picked and fertilized until it begins to die which could be into October. After the weeds and grass are cleared, I will spread organic fertilizers, till the rows into hills, plant seed under the grow light, and get ready to plant in the soil in September.

In September I hope to teach a class at our church on the Psychosocial, Moral, and Faith Stages of a maturing life. The major crisis of childhood is to develop more “trust than distrust” for that ratio will follow us the rest of our lives. The major crisis of the sixth decade is to have more “generativity than stagnation” in life. How much have I been willing to teach and mentor the next generations in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s in the mastery skills I have learned in my profession, in ethical relationships, in wise decision making, and in the practice of my avocation, organic gardening. Maturity calls for discipline and perseverance.

I picked 114 pods of okra yesterday off some 40 plants. My wife can only cook so much in a few different ways. Who do I share the okra with? I gave some to my son who visited from Houston. I will leave some at the church. I will also share okra with friends, neighbors, my barber, my banker, the post master who got the Post Office open quickly after the hurricane, and others I know who like it. Being generous eases anxiety.

-Herman Green

8/7/2018    Garden Journals