I recently learned the word “entelechy” from reading The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. As I understand it, it’s the force that drives things to become what they were meant to be, the spirit that makes the acorn into the oak–or, more relevantly to my case, a tiny handful of seeds into a welter of burdock.
Gardeners have to be intimately aware of entelechy when they design their gardens; they have to understand that the sparse and spindly seedlings will shoot outwards and upwards and that the seemingly empty garden will soon be full.
I, alas, didn’t account for entelechy adequately when I did my own planting. While my garden could at no point have been described as “neat,” the straw paths between beds were clearly visible.
That’s no longer the case. Vegetables and their weedy consorts have clambered out of their beds and are now scrambling enthusiastically around increasingly jungle-like garden. Collecting vegetables from this exuberant mass is more accurately described as “foraging” than “harvesting.”
But that’s all right; instead of fretting about the mess, I’ll applaud my garden for its self-actualization and give it credit for being a top-notch wildlife refuge. This, my friends, is entelechy at work.