Attached To The Problem
Report From PIA – July 22
I did a stint at the Master Garden Demonstration garden tonight at the Barnstable County Fair. The Master Gardeners staff the demo garden, answering questions and getting kids and adults interested in gardening. It’s always fun to first tour the fair looking at the animals, and then showing a child where the seeds are forming under the spent marigold flowers.
One particular exchange was especially interesting tonight. A woman came up to us, asking about a problem that she was having with hydroponic fruit production. It seemed that she and her husband had some insect damage that they have been unable, so far, to organically control. “I’ve asked everyone and so far no one has been able to help me,” she said.
I began by suggesting some people she could call. “Oh, they won’t know about this,” she responded. Since the people I was recommending were entomologists, I was pretty sure that they would at least be familiar with her problem, but I continued to propose other solutions based on the insect’s life cycle, feeding habits etc.
All suggestions of approach A, B and C were met with protestations of why these wouldn’t or couldn’t work. I knew I wasn’t offering her any quick and easy cures, but what I was suggesting were other ways to think about the problem, and different paths that might lead her to a satisfactory control.
She was having none of it. Finally, I looked her in the eye and said something about not always being able to get what we want. I’m sure that she didn’t hear this, just as she didn’t hear any of my other thoughts. I realized that she was more attached to having the problem, and continuing to do exactly what she has been doing, than she was with actually changing the situation.
This woman isn’t alone… all of us have had periods of being so identified with the difficulty that we’re reluctant to go beyond it. It’s a very seductive position to be in. The dilemma is known and so it has become comfortable. Finding a solution might mean more change than we’re happy about…it could ask us to look closely at more than just this one problem.
Note to self: When I’m tempted to list all of the reasons I can’t change something, remember this night in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden and ask: Is there really no solution, or is remaining stuck in the predicament just more comfortable?