Remember to Water Your Dreams! - ABenAbroad
Greener days, from early 2014. Pre-ShadeUmbrella, Pre-CrazyGarden.

I keep learning a fundamentally valuable lesson here in Vietnam, over and over:

If you don’t pay attention to something, it runs the risk of dying.

I’ve seen it illustrated vividly, time and again, as I cycle from over-care to under-care in the upkeep of our rooftop terrace garden. I’m actually a little embarrassed that I have to be reminded of this lesson so frequently! But every so often life seems to get in the way, and focus gets shifted. The result is that plants will wither and fade, and sometimes die.

Plants and nature are a principle joy in my life – I love getting my hands dirty. For as long as I’ve had my own place, I’ve had plants. And, like many plant owners, I’ve killed a ton of flora in my time. Through a lack of observation, ineptitude, and downright neglect, I’ve crushed many organisms whose very existence is a tonic for my mind… and yet, reflexively, I still revive the ones I can, toss the ones I’ve killed, and start fresh.

Vietnam is a casual gardener’s dream. It’s actually very easy to grow things here with a minimum of effort – all that is truly needed is a pot and some soil… and water, every day. Maybe not much water (most love the excess, though, being tropical two-season plants), but the trick is that it has to be a habit.

The very act of attention becomes nourishing.

The same is true with the ambitions and dreams we hold closest to our chests.


Remember to Water Your Dreams! - ABenAbroad
The plants are always greener on the other side
of the dry season.

I mean, obviously, right? But somehow, it’s a cycle and habit that I’m only JUST NOW beginning to understand and work to avoid. I recently posted my New Year’s Resolutions for 2015, and #8 is basically just this lesson, my subtext full of personal shame, impatience, and disappointment. It’s not like I’m TRYING to neglect plants or my dreams, I just… lose focus.

My consistent problem seems to be that I pay a very large amount of attention to something, perhaps even obsessive amounts, but then lose interest and cycle away. I usually come back, but I have to spend some time getting reacquainted with my goals.

I equate my dreams to keeping my soothing garden alive. If I want them to continue to flourish, evolve, and change with me, I need to pay low-level but constant attention to them.

Using my Resolutions, I’m going to keep building on the rough foundations I’ve built for myself over the last year. This has the added benefit of keeping me thinking: I have a pretty rich inner life and having these in the forefront of my mind will help me develop them (you know, until those 2016 Resolutions!). It’s all too easy for me to lose myself down mental paths. They might be interesting and full of strange and beautiful flowers, but they’re not always constructively helping me keep an Endgame in focus, either.

(On the other hand… these mental digressions are often fruitful in other ways. It’s one of the primary methods I use to develop new interests, for example, and new avenues of thought involving my creative and analytical brain. So it’s not really always wasted time… I just need to thread these byways into my major goals in some manner. Goin’ for the synergy!)

And so I’ll keep toiling away, attempting to, this time, finally strike the right balance between elements in my life… and hope I learn that lesson soon. Those plants won’t forgive me my neglectful cycles forever!

Hopefully this is the year that my vision and attention widen to encompass my entire world and future. Time to get to work!

How do you stay focused on your big goals?