starting seedsI started seeds today: tomatoes, chanterais melons, zucchini, eggplant, and brussels sprouts. I pushed the seeds into peat pellets and set them out in two lasagna pans covered with saran wrap. Once they sprout, I’ll put them in a sunny window. Come August, I hope my tiny seeds will have turned into a bounty of fruits and vegetables.

Starting seeds is a springtime ritual, a tiny miracle, and a rich metaphor. When we came back from the New York Gift Show last month, we told people, “We wrote some good orders and planted a lot of seeds.” Of course, those seeds have to be watered and cared for. We can’t expect good results if we don’t create the right conditions for our seeds to grow.

I always start way more seedlings than I need because I know not all of them will sprout and flourish. It’s a life lesson I try to impart to my son, who is currently looking for a summer job: “Don’t just apply to a couple of places and and then sit back and wait…put in lots of applications. You just don’t know where the opening is going to be.”

And seeds remind me that, in spite of my best efforts, I can’t really control the outcome with a garden or anything else in life. The groundhogs may trash my garden again this year. My kids may not be happy all the time. I can work hard and plan well, but a recession may whack my business anyway. This isn’t pessimism…it’s just truth, and it’s liberating to know it deeply.

When I feel my shoulders pulling up to my chin in tension, I pause and see if I’m trying too hard to control the uncontrollable. Then, just maybe, I can relax about outcomes and focus back on the process and the present. As I push those tiny seeds into the soil, I can’t know for sure which ones will bear fruit, but chances are good that some of them will.