Too Much of a Good Thing

“Plant in full sun,” the tag on the plant said. It added that I could trellis it, but keep the trellis in the sun. The plant was a Manzanita and I purchased it at a local big-box hardware store.

Because it was the first year, I didn’t plant it in full sun. I planted the Manzanita in a big pot with a small trellis and put it where it got the morning sun and was shaded from the harsher sun of the afternoon.

During May and early June, the Manzanita bloomed constantly. By the end of June, the edges of the leaves were beginning to turn brown. Too much sun. I pulled the pot under the patio overhang.

Through July, the plant slowly died, from the branch tips in. It was simply too hot. Not just too much sun, but too much heat. For all the years I lived in Connecticut, there was no such thing as too much sun, but in the Southwest, too much sun and too much heat is what we call June, July and August.  As far as plants go, there can be too much of a good thing.

It turns out that Manzanitas grow at 3,000 feet to 5,000 feet, which was not mentioned on the label.  (Phoenix is about 1,000 feet) The big-box store probably should not have sold the plant; I think few people buy them here and then drive them North to plant.

But it did remind me that any living thing can suffer from too much of a good thing–too much sun for plants, or too much water. For people, we can suffer from too much free time, too much work, too much anger, too much stimulation.
It’s not just a matter of balance, it’s a matter of knowing what, exactly, it takes to let you thrive. Even if others around you are thriving, they may be the high-altitude types and you aren’t. Demanding the flexibility to thrive under every condition is more than most people can deliver. But it’s up to you to figure that out, the people who surround you will assume if they find you in their lives, you will be able to thrive.

You will need to establish your own limits, and then let others know. “Grow where you are planted” might be a great proverb, but it may be wiser to plant yourself where you can thrive.

-Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach who helps people become brave enough to know what it takes to thrive.


12 thoughts on “Too Much of a Good Thing

  1. On a similar note, this reminds me of the Dolly Parton song, “Wildflowers.” The chorus says, “Wildflowers dont’ care where they grow.” Maybe allowing a little wildness in ourselves can help us to be more adaptable, too.

  2. I wish I could figure out balance. As for bloom where you are planted, I’d prefer to bloom in many places. Maybe I should just tramp around the country and take lots of photographs that can be discovered – or not – after I;m gone and don;t care so much…

  3. Pingback: Another “Quinn-ism” | The Creativity Continium

  4. Interesting that you would use the word “thrive”. I recently created a custom piece of art which I named “Un-tie to Thrive” for a woman out of her late husband and father-in-law’s neckties. Originally I had planned to have the ties in a very formal arrangement coming out of a center point to create a color wheel of ties. As I was starting to lay out the ties, I couldn’t make my self do it. Instead, I pulled the center thread on the ties to have them ripple, twist and weave through each other. The idea is that we need to un-tie ourselves from some of our old beliefs and baggage in order to “thrive”

  5. This is a very timely post for me. I live in a seniors aparment building and in the past six months six of my neighbours have passed away and most of the neighbours I talk to have serious health issues. I am, fortunately, healthy but have been struggling to not slip into depression. We all know where we are headed but to be reminded of it on an almost daily basis is a challenge. I don’t want to focus on death and illness, I want to focus on living the best and happiest life I can. Unfortunately, financially, I don’t have the choice to plant myself where I can thrive so I have to grow where I am planted for the time being and make it as beautiful and comfortable as I possibly can while setting limits on the amount of time I spend with neighbours who are health challenged and that’s all they talk about. Thank you for the reminder today to thrive where I am planted and avoid the sadness as much as possible while still being a good neighbour.

  6. It’s balance of a sort. There are no good things or bad things, only shifting patterns of countless things. Sometimes the patterns shift through a form that matches the wishes of a watcher. I think it’s that strange symmetry that attracts us and we call good.

      • The good and the bad are not gone. If you divide everything known into the observer and the observed, they’re firmly in the former camp. So there is room for chocolate, but where might it be? As to that, it turns out that there are a couple of big, deep mysteries about the physical universe. One is that the majority of the universe itself is currently missing and for the moment called “dark matter”. The other is that the effects of black holes have been (probably) found, but currently what lies beyond the event horizon is unknown. The answer to both questions — note the dark hues involved — is just as likely to be “chocolate”.

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