When you can’t pay back, pay forward.

December 3, 2012

All day long birds sipped sweetness from the throaty kangaroo paws I planted next to the house four years ago.

Earlier in the week six “smallies” found delight in the hammock I hoisted between two gum trees four years ago for visitors of any age seeking rest (or fun).

Jayne Whitford, architect and designer of children’s outdoor learning environments, spent most of Friday here and during a walk along the Peace Path found the buttery coconut fragrance of the Kunzia Ambigua bushes pure bliss. These I put in as tiny seedlings 20 years ago.

One could be forgiven in thinking that my emphasis on the “I have” is a bit of grandstanding on my part. No so. Rather it is an attempt to give substance to the title of this blog: “When you can’t pay back, pay forward”.

There have been many people of many persuasions from many countries who have been of immeasurable help to my ripening. Death, distance and time make it neigh impossible to “pay back” anything of worth to these valuable souls. What I can do, though, is express gratitude for their past guidance by “paying forward” to present and future visitors coming to Windgrove with the gift of a memorable experience. Within them — especially the kids – seeds of hope planted here could, in some small way, blossom into a way of being in the world that helps them remain actively positive throughout their journey. A journey I will not be around to witness.

Yes, it means time away from the studio.
Yes, it means time away from the garden.
Yes, it means time away from the books.
Yes, it means time away from the still aloneness I cherish.

Yes, it means taking the time to remember.

When we are unable to return a favor, we can pay it forward to someone or something else. Using this approach, we can see ourselves as part of a larger flow of giving and receiving throughout time. Receiving from the past, we can give to the future. When tackling issues such as climate change, the stance of gratitude is a refreshing alternative to guilt or fear as a source of motivation.

Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone
from Active Hope: How to face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer Parks December 4, 2012 at 11:51 am

Thanks, Pete, for your special words. We live in Holland, MI..tulips are the tip of the iceberg…we plant all sorts of trees and ask our young relatives to check on them in 20 years. Loved Detroit and hoping some day we can go back and see some of those urban gardens people are starting to grow! Love your site; would love to come and visit someday, but in the meantime, love to look at the photographs and read your lovely words! JP

carolynaudet December 4, 2012 at 7:33 am

Hi Peter, What a wonderful article, and choice in life, to share and give. Thankyou, Carolyn

peter December 3, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Hey Glenn, I thought you might like that I used a quote from Macy’s book in this blog. With Jung Sung’s smile you can’t stay grumpy too long.

Glenn December 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm

With our incessant need to measure, quanitify and make certain of everything/one until every grain of creativity, mystery and wonder is but squeezed out of life we now have a ‘pie chart’ to confirm the the pickle we now find ourselves.


In consideration of the many ‘smallies’ to come maybe we should have taken the ‘cautionary’ route. Derrick Jensen would say, at this stage, it might serve us better to look ‘Beyond Hope’


In peace, yet a little grumpy … for the moment.


Previous post:

Next post: