Joy for Beginners, Hadley
This week we meet Hadley, a young widow who finds solace from her husband’s death in a small home with an overgrown garden. Hadley’s story reminded me of how a caterpillar transforms in to a butterfly; the worm encases itself in a cocoon and begins a process of metamorphosis in which it literally dissolves in to a soupy goo. From that goo a butterfly is eventually formed. In order to survive, the butterfly must break out of the cocoon that once sustained it. Getting out of a cocoon can be a difficult process, however if a well meaning human tries to help by cutting the cocoon open the butterfly will die instantly. In fact, butterflies that experience greater struggle in breaking out of their cocoon are hardier and live longer than their counterparts who have an easier time of it.
The small house and overgrown garden provide Hadley with a cocoon of sorts; Hadley has found a sheltered place to allow herself and her previous life to melt away. But, also like the butterfly, Hadley must break out of her cocoon in order to find a new, reformed life. I think that Kate, after coming so close to death herself, sees and understands this about her friend, even though Hadley does not see it for herself and would be happy to continue on, even as the vines of her garden wrap themselves around her more tightly.
I found some resonance with this chapter; my garden always seems to reflect my state of mind. I find pulling weeds cathartic and often think about habits or other things in my life that I want to get rid of while I’m weeding. My favorite line from this chapter was, “You can tell more about a person from their garden than you ever will from what they say about themselves.” What did you enjoy about this chapter? What does your garden say about you?