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