Have you seen images of a plant seed germinating?
A condensed version of the germination story is the seed first soaks up water, then the roots start growing, growing, and then the first leaves break through the soil surface to be greeted by warm rays of sunshine. Throughout the process to maturity, a plant grows visibly upwards with new leaves. And hidden from sight, outwards and downwards with new roots.
In college, I studied Agronomy and spent hours poring over information about plants and soil. The more I learned about plants the more I loved them. One of the main functions of roots is to provide stability to a plant. Like a well-engineered foundation, roots keep the plant upright so the leaves can collect sunlight. The other main function is to provide access to water and other nutrients housed in the soil. Plants have two plumbing systems, the xylem and the phloem. Depending on the type of plant, these systems are operated and organized slightly differently, but the main principle is the phloem moves molecules produced by photosynthesis in the leaves up and down throughout the plant, while the xylem can only move water and water soluble nutrients in an upwards direction from the roots. Both the leaves and the roots have an important role in providing the necessary materials to keep the plant growing.
In creative endeavours, work done behind the scenes can feel frustratingly unproductive. But just like the roots that are hidden away from the world, your work done in secret is actually paramount to your success.
I’m here to remind you that whatever you are working toward, those times you spend planning and imagining, times you spend practicing and creating things the world never sees, those are valuable periods of growth. Your secret work is providing stability to your project you may not even realize and feeding it with nutrients it can’t get any other way.
Visible growth is nearly always the result of hidden investment. Keep watering your roots!