November 16, 2020

When Plant-Love Triggers a Bomb Scare…

by christopherabdo

The Transportation Security Officer at the airport looked at me with intense suspicion. This was maybe a few months or a year or so after 9/11...I guess I was 11 or 12. The bomb sensor or whatever you call it went off as my luggage went through. I had a sinking feeling inside...did I lose track of my bag? Did I somehow get a bomb into my luggage without noticing? 

I wasn't able to bring plants across the border, so I brought the next best thing...

All of the security guards gathered 'round, the tension mounted as they were watching me, watching the bag and fear was rising all around us. It seems like time stopped while everyone waited in anticipation of what would be inside my luggage bag. When finally, they opened my bag...I saw the biggest look of confusion across his face...grow lights?  

Turns out plant light bulbs look just like bombs in luggage. 

The security guards had the most puzzled look on their face...why is this kid bringing plant lights from Toronto to San Antonio? 

My mother, totally aggravated, finally huffed and puffed "he likes plants!". 

Well, now is my chance to explain and share little bit about how I'm still figuring out how to be aware of, and change, my impact.

I had no idea that light bulbs looked like bombs though...oops. 

I have had countless moments where my intention and action ended up  having a totally unexpected impact on others. I have especially been in quite a few sticky situations because my enthusiasm got the better of me and became evangelism...or even sometimes my actions just had an impact I never could have predicted. 

The trouble is...I want to make an impact! I just don't quite know how to go about that...I don't want to set off bomb-sensors in people when I'm trying to do the opposite...contribute to life. My answer has usually been two options: 

  1. Try to do everything by myself. 
  2. Try to push someone to join my make the world a greener, kinder place. 

Neither of these work...well not in the way I would like them to work.

Option 1: Going it Alone

I can't do it alone. I can't literally plant trees and gardens all over Austin and then the world. So I'd much rather join a cause and now, reluctantly, I'm trying to lead the way...because I can't find anyone else in Austin with this particular vision of joyful eco-activism/gardening/I-don't-even-know-what-exactly-to-call-this-yet who will let me follow them. 

Option 2: Evangelize

I've been pushy. It doesn't work well. Even IF you get someone to do something out of creates tension and stress in your relationship with them that will build and eventually it causes more relationship problems than whatever solution you were trying to get to. 

Just like my plant-light-bomb-threats...I'm trying to channel this intense, annoyingly persistent desire to have a positive impact, into something that actually creates a positive impact. To do that, I will have to choose not to isolate myself, not to evangelize, but instead to...drumroll please...

Option 3:  Eh???

I don't know....but here's what I'm trying out for now: 

  1. Take pretty photos of plants...share 
  2. Offer help, should someone want it. 
  3. Tell Davin, someone who has a lot more experience than me in certain gardening things and lives by Austin that I enjoyed my conversation with him and it would be cool to maybe try a project together...his answer was, wait for it:  "Cool, ya".  Okay, what does that mean? Like "okay, go away" or "hey let me think about it" . Oy do I figure out the right way to go about inviting people to share in *my* vision and figure out how interested/committed they might be? 
  4. Create as many experiences, stories and education on commongardenground as I can to hopefully inspire someone other than me, someone  oh so much better at creating community, to create a community...since I'm still feeling lost here. 

Option 4: Ask do I do this? No really, if you were in my shoes, had something you knew would be great to see in the world, how on earth (lol) would you make it happen?


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