Fixing Flowers is Different

 

Do you ever catch yourself getting mad at inanimate objects for NOT doing what you WANT them to do? You plant a flower, and you expect it will grow into the most Instagram-worthy version of itself, instantaneously, and with little-to-no more effort on your part.

We’ve become accustomed to instant gratification, and the monster gets worse and worse as we expect more and more. Seamless integration in coverage, touchless EVERYTHING in the bathroom, and on and on. Something isn’t working? Turn it off, then turn it back on, should be fixed just like that.

This is not a rant against modernity.

But we MUST realize that this digital, technical, modern life of ours has blurred our expectations when it comes to nature, to humanity, to relationships. and to life itself. We can not bring the same “get fixed quick” Turn it Off/On approach to the garden with any level of success.

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” – Alexander den Heijer

Too often we assume there is a problem with the flower, and we need to troubleshoot in order to fix it. In reality, we need to clear the air of the poison that is suffocating it. If anything, we need to check on the quality and strength of the connections (the roots, the leaves) Do they all have access to the levels of nutrients and care that they need in order to thrive? Do we actually feed the damn thing once in a while, and give it the life-sustaining drink of cool water it desperately needs?  We need to talk to it, to offer it companionship…and then…give it some space to grow. We can’t will it to grow, stand watch and cheer it on “grow, grow, grow” because as well meaning as that seems, we’re creating a shadow and blocking the sun.

Nature has an incredible way of self-organizing, and optimizing. Watch a houseplant orient itself toward the sun over time, and stretch toward the open window as if for a breath of fresh air.

“But my plant isn’t doing what I want it to do,” you keep telling yourself. It’s smaller than I’d prefer, not the right shade of pink, or smells ‘funny.’ What do we do? Give up on the plant, toss it in the garbage, and try again? Modern, disposable, fast-food living practically DEMANDS we do that very thing, to make SPACE for the next iteration. Epictetus and his Stoic philosophy suggests that same as Heijer, above. The problem doesn’t live in the plant, but in our steadfast devotion to the way we BELIEVE nature should re-organize and bend to OUR wills.

“People are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them.”  -Epictetus

Like fixing a plane while flying it, there is an urgency and immediacy to fixing flowers. We care about these little, living things, and want to see them into a better future. This takes on long and short-term action. We must take steps now AND keep the end goal in mind.

The flower owes us nothing. Supremely intelligent nature keeps buds from blooming into poisonous atmospheres. Plants may need to adapt and re-grow and that re-growth takes time and patience. Fixing flowers is different than fixing the non-natural. Fixing flowers may actually just be fixing ourselves to the point that we can support their fragile, trusting sprouts again.

This has been about #moreThanJustFlowers, #moreThanAGreenThumb

It’s OK to be OK

Ancient Stoic Philosopher, @Epictetus once said:

“Deliberate much before saying or doing anything, for you will not have the power of recalling what has been said or done.” – Epictetus

I have said and done many things to prove that statement correct, only to later realize that it doesn’t and shouldn’t be regret that follows #Action but a deep understanding that the choices we make make us. This quote stirs up some emotions in me from a heated discussion I had this weekend. An old buddy was in town and we met up downtown for some drinks after a concert. He’d met up with some random new people and everyone was having ‘New Acquaintance” conversations in a relatively loud bar. It came up in conversation that a majority of us were combat veterans, but one of the “New guys” was a patriot civilian with a passion for PTSD. In fact, I believe it was the first question out of his mouth to me. “Do you have PTSD?” The question didn’t really phase me, because although I’ve seen and been through some very intense training and real-life situations, I am very well-adjusted and have sorted out my emotions on the things I’ve done and seen. I do not have any lingering illness.

Like the image above, however I felt very alone in my opinion that “It’s ok to be ok.”

The guy kept pressing, and it was pretty interesting to hear his side of the issue. He ultimately came to the conclusion that he wants to make sure that vets get treatment and not outcast when they get back from combat, and if they need help, they need a better level of care. In the heat of the discussion, I had to think long and hard before saying anything because as Epictetus said, I know that words can’t come back. I wasn’t against everything he was saying, in fact, we agreed on plenty, but his tone… It was as if the man wanted every vet to be psychoanalyzed because surely, “You’re all fucked up when you come back.” Hearing that, I couldn’t simply say nothing. He needed to hear something from someone who’s been through hell and kept on moving.

You see, some people won’t talk about it. Some people will. Some will only talk to others who have “been there” and some people are ok. That demographic, the people who are ok, need to know that they are not somehow different, weird, or other than human. They should also not develop hubris and think that they are somehow Superhuman. He said to me, “I feel bad for your guys…” and I said, “That’s just it, You feel bad for me for having been through some of the most trying times of my life, and I appreciate the sentiment, but honestly, I feel bad for those of you who HAVEN’T been tested in such a way. You have no idea how strong you can be….” And I let that linger.

People who can handle incredible amounts of stress and life and death decisions are not liars who will hide their pain and emotions. The notion that EVERYONE is fucked up is false. Plenty of people can compartmentalize their experiences and learn, even grow from adversity. Check out Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile for a full treatise on the idea that it takes tests, and shocks, and struggle to become more than robust. Some things GAIN from disorder, rather than degrading.

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@byreginatv posted this meme today, and it’s poignant. We all come from different places, and surely I can’t speak for everyone who’s had traumatic experiences, as we all sailed from different ports, but maybe if one other person reading this needs to hear that “it’s ok to be ok” then that’s good enough for me.

Life is an adventure. It can be interesting, terrifying, awe-inspiring, and downright difficult, but it’s important to realize that it’s precious. Our time here is but a breath, and it’s up to us to seize the moments we have any craft them into the stuff of dreams.

Engage, #Act, and keep up the #hustle.

#FFW