Well, I’m in the rebellious phase of my evaluation as an MDes student! So, you will not get one polished and well-structured project in this post! Instead, you are going to get a glimpse into my mind with my reflections and insights on a number of projects and actions that I’m working on simultaneously.
If you already don’t know what my previous project was about, shame on you! You were not paying enough attention during class! Just kidding! With Dinner at Sheyda’s, I began to explore ideas around gardening as a social act. I invited my friends for dinner and asked them to plant unnamed seeds and name their plants in the giving birth ceremony. Then I collected them and took after them as their nanny.
My babies grew! Stronger and happier every day! As they were growing, I started to take pictures of their growth. At first, they were just random pictures. Then I began to put them in a file and compare them. After a week or so, I felt the urge to communicate with them. I began to talk to them when I watered them. I began to talk about them with my mother and show them whenever we were on a call. I began to write in a journal about them with dates and pictures to show their growth. Quite interestingly, I unintentionally addressed them in my journal as a person!
Now I could vividly see how the simple act of taking care of these plants has changed my relationship with them. I no longer saw them as objects but as living things. How couldn’t I? They were growing right in front of my eyes! I could measure their growth every day!
I had another insight when the parents began to ask about their babies. I realized how I was very mindful of these babies because they were someone else’s babies! Someone put their trust in me to take care of their child. Even if my friends didn’t form a strong relationship with these plants and didn’t ask about their well-being as a parent would, I could feel the impact of being their nanny on me.
So what happened here?
I can see the influence of active engagement in caring for a plant on how I see them as a being on myself!
I can understand the impact of reframing my point of view on these plants because of their role in an activity, on how I perceived them and how I interacted with them.
The interim thesis document deadline is just around the corner, isn’t it?
My head was spinning with all the ideas and insights that I couldn’t make any sense of! Melanie pushed me to start visualizing my research to make sense of what I’m doing. And I did!
I began to notice the things that are influencing my practice. My trauma, my ongoing therapy, my migration, reading the three sisters chapter from the Braiding Sweetgrass, reading Thinking in systems book, design studio reflections, lots and lots of mindfulness meditation to cope with anxiety, the music that I’m into now, the food that I eat, and all the little things that I didn’t pay attention to before because I regarded them as “Irrelevant” to my thesis.
What if it all is related? I began to see it. All those lines that were connected in my visualization for my thesis began to expand and expand, and I found connections between my thesis and my relationship to my cat! Talking about a crazy cat lady, right?!
I began to sense it. It is not just my actions that are related to one another, it is my whole surroundings, and it expanded to the whole universe around me! It is, after all, a system, isn’t it?
So what did I learn with this one?
I’ve started to remember my childhood moments when I looked at the world with wonder and curiosity, with awe, gratitude, respect, admiration, and much more! Why did I have all those emotions? The answer is obvious to me! But more importantly, how did I forget those emotions? How can I restore them, and how can I make others feel it?
I was an uptight person! It’s true I was! I had restrictions for myself, I judged myself too hard, I was not comfortable, not free! And I always wanted to be free.
I convinced myself to do some Guerilla gardening in the parks near my house. How long did it take me to convince myself to do this simple task? I’m ashamed to say! But I finally did it! My plants were growing fast, and I had no choice! Not for me, but for their sakes, I had to do it!
Granted, I got OVEREXCITED one day and sowed a bunch of beans, corns and pumpkins! We have a good term for someone like me in Farsi, which means one who doesn’t have the hold on how influenced they were by something! And I’m proud to say I did lose some control with excitement when I read The Three Sisters! Who can resist Robin Wall Kimmerer, am I right?
So you know, corn, bean and pumpkin are not technically houseplants! I had to do something with these creatures I gave life to. I couldn’t just ignore their happy leaves!
So what are my insights on the last?
I thought I had to save my plants, but it was the plants that saved me from my own prison. I would have never done anything like this in my life. In my life, I was always cautious of my acts and I couldn’t really do anything that would catch people’s eyes! But now, look at me, I do see real change in me!
Here are some pictures of this one: