Peppers, tomatoes and perfectionism

My pepper plants just aren’t doing so great this year. The peppers look runty, and the plants seem meager compared to last season. Last year, I was swimming in gorgeous huge peppers at this time. I do all the right things…rotate their plot, feed them, water them… but some years just do better than others for reasons known only to the peppers. The tomatoes, on the other hand, are fabulous this season. Last year, a blight hit all the tomatoes in my area and they spent most of the season looking pathetic before they finally just gave up.

So it goes in the garden. It’s rare that I have a year where absolutely everything is doing well. On the other hand, it’s also rare to have a year when everything is doing poorly.

I don’t know why the peppers are having a bad time of it, and they aren’t talking. But I know they are doing the best they can right now, even if that best isn’t quite as good as last season. They are living things, fulfilling their life’s purpose of setting fruit, making seed, soaking up sun and handing down their genes to the next generation. It’s okay. That’s the way things are. I certainly don’t blame the peppers.

So why do we blame ourselves?  We humans sometimes have a tendency to be excessively self-critical. I got everything done yesterday, why not today?  I ran X miles last week, what’s the matter with me now?  _________ (fill in the blank with your local overachiever) does it all, why can’t I??

I’ve come to realize that each person really does do the best they can at any given moment.  But that “best” isn’t a constant. It changes all the time. Conditions change. Stress levels vary. Our energy is up one day, down the next.  Some days, we are so overwhelmed it’s a miracle we get out of bed.  That’s life. Blaming ourselves accomplishes about as much as yelling at the pepper plants.

Or worse: comparing them to the tomatoes! 

Think of that person whose name went in the blank space above.  We all know them. Supermen, superwomen… those who seem to have it all together. Those who do it all and make it look easy. I know a few people like this. We all do. I’ve even had people say that I occupy that blank space for them.  I want to say, ARE YOU KIDDING??? No way. Can’t be. I am absolutely not that person. But then again, I know myself from the inside. I know all about the bad days, the tough times, the moments when I’m hanging by my fingernails.  I know about my messy house and just where the cat threw up under that chair in the corner. 

But others don’t see that. Just like we don’t see the interior of other people’s lives. That person whose name filled your blank space would likely react the same way I did.  If the tomatoes could talk, they would probably say to the peppers, ARE YOU KIDDING??   You should have seen me last year. I was a wreck!! You were gorgeous.

So, the peppers are doing their best, and that’s okay. The tomatoes are wonderful, but I won’t demand a repeat performance next season.  They are what they are, right now. And that is enough. I’ll cut myself some slack too, and realize that I can’t really know what’s happening in someone else’s life any more than they can know what’s happening in mine.

Right about now, the peppers are breathing a sigh of relief, and the tomatoes are enjoying their moment. So it goes.

Blessings of this moment to you, however your life is right now.

Photo Credit:  flickr user Ajith_chatie at

About Rebecca

Natural spirituality writer, deep thinker, mom of 3, adjunct professor, resident of Earth
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2 Responses to Peppers, tomatoes and perfectionism

  1. Debra She Who Seeks says:

    Cats! They throw up wherever they just darn well please.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So if I am a mango tree, what chance do I have at thriving in the rich Massachusetts soil?

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