Let’s Be Frank, Shall We?

“In my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be.”

Cinderella sang these words when she was locked in the attic with only her imagination to keep her company.

But who needs a silly little song and imagination when we have social media?  Snap a picture, slap on a caption, add a hashtag and BAM.  We’re whatever we want to be.

Apparently last week I wanted to be a gardener.

In my recent Instagram post, I offered up this picture for the whole world to see.

Yep.  That’s the one.

Can you believe the beautiful variation of color in the just-picked, vine-ripened tomatoes?  I know!  And notice the lovely green pots, slightly blurred in the background.  So cool how that happened. I was kind of hoping my bare feet would show up in the picture, too, but I just couldn’t make it all work visually.  And how about my manicured nails?  I have to say just about all the boxes are checked to make this a near-perfect post.  Color.  Composition.  Simply wording.  Award-winning, for sure.

I mean it got thirty-two likes, which didn’t set records, but it’s not like it got an embarrassing two likes or something.

But wait.

There’s the part where I mostly stink at gardening. Yeah that.  But it doesn’t show, does it?  I mean who would know?  Really. Mostly no one will know.

The long and short of it is this.

The other day I made you think I was a gardener, and I am not.

Sorry about that.

Suddenly it’s nagging at me that somewhere, deep inside, I guess I wanted you to think I was good at it. The picture implied it. Growing ones own food is cool and trendy, so if I’m growing mine…well you get the point.  It wasn’t a conscious thought as I posted, but that’s even scarier–to think I post and create a false impression without a second thought.

My friend Vivian–now there’s a gardener for you.  She harvests baskets and baskets of produce in the summer.  She’s a farmer, too.  Chickens and eggs are her specialty.

Then, of course, there’s my friend Keenan, who posts the loveliest pictures of heirloom bulbs she actually rescues and grows and shares.  She raises chickens, too.

These are legit gardeners.  You can believe their pictures.

Here’s the truth behind my picture:

1.  I struggle every year to grow things. On my watch, heads of all kinds of lettuce have succumbed.  Also squash, peas, carrots, peppers, broccoli.  Many, many tomatoes. All gone too soon.

2.  I currently have four tomato plants and only one of them is really producing.  The others spit out a tomato here and there.  They’re all different varieties, and I can tell you the name of not one of them because I DON’T KNOW.  I also have one non-producing okra plant. None of them are lush and green, instead looking like they have only a day more to live.  Are they dehydrated?  Over-watered maybe?  Not a clue.

3. On picture day, I had a spider bite at the base of my thumb   I got it while snipping dead leaves off my plants.  It’s gross, so I covered it up with a tomato I’m holding.  I’m good at staging.

4.  I like manicures.  What self-respecting gardener has manicured nails?  Zero I know of.  Not Vivian or Keenan.

5.  I actually did eat some of the tomatoes on my lunch salad.

6. As I snapped the picture,  I was standing in a mixture of soggy dog food and nasty dog water–a result of my garden hose kinking up, me impatiently slinging the hose to unkink it, thereby upsetting Pearl the Mastiff’s food and drink bowls.

7.  I might have said a foul word.

8.  I used the Portrait setting on my iPhone to get the blurry effect in the background.  I experimented with other settings and decided on that one.

9. The photo I used was the third take. Photos one and two were deleted.

10.  I don’t care how it might help my garden grow, I’m going nowhere near any kind of guano–bat or otherwise–because I fear Ebola.  I bet Viv and Keenan don’t fear Ebola.

Man, social media has messed us up.

The words authenticity and transparency get thrown around a lot these days.  Long discussions and sermons have happened around them. In the end, though, my authenticity is my responsibility.  And yours is yours.

So this?  This is a self-indictment about a simple little post that gave me pause.  Convicted me, retrospectively. It has nothing to do with tomatoes and gardening, really.  It has to do with honesty.

It’s not likely I’ll stop posting, because I really love pictures and composition and color.  I love sharing pictures with other people who love pictures.  That’s authentic me.

Maybe, though,  I’ll check my motivation.  Maybe I’ll ask myself if I’m putting the honest and truest me out there–the flawed and imperfect me.  The me that loves fresh vegetables, but buys most all of them at the market like most people, because…well because I kill way more vegetables than I grow. May they all rest in peace.

Authentically yours,