I never really got onto the fresh flower train. I know as a woman, I am supposed to swoon over the color, the smell, the pulsation of romance that they emit. There was season where an engorged Lily was appreciated. But I clung to the symbolism more than the actual experience of them: Peace enfolded with vibrant fertility (or so I was informed). When a woman in my circle, whether an office colleague, neighbor or family member received one, my alarm button always fired. Not only would I question their value (wouldn’t you prefer something more practical, like a pair of shoes?) but I questioned their signification. When a person gets flowers, something was abnormal, either in a special, celebratory way, or a grieving, coping manner. Flowers signified, they meant something, they pointed to other things…I found it all an analytical distraction.
And I was completely missing the point.
It was I who was sinning in my denial of the power of flowers to just be what they are, do what they do, live as they live. My incapacity to enjoy their brief, punctuated presence was a little depressing. First off, flowers don’t need my projection of meaning on them to bolster their significance. They don’t require worth in the form of “this one means hope, clarity,” or “this bouquet offers a sense of solidarity in times of sorrow.” I must resist the urge the attempt to rationalize all of creation! Flowers can just be pretty. In fact, they have done some research indicating that for people that enjoy flowers, cultivating a garden or having them around in times of stress has similar healing benefits of prayer. Second (and I can’t stop myself from going all rational and metaphorical here) flowers have a way of reminding us to be focused on the here and now, the present moment. No two flowers are alike, and this points to our human lives as well, smacking us in the heart to remind ourselves that our lives are only temporary and we must seek pleasure right now. Not before it’s too late, but after it’s too early.
Luckily, when receiving collaboration on the creation of this list, my friends called me out on my snobbery. The task today was to buy fresh flowers for someone else.
I had the impulse at 5 am in the morning, and for abut 80 minutes, attempted to rationalize my way out it. My mind said things like: “She wouldn’t like them,” “She said she didn’t want to make a fuss, so why are you?” “What if you get the wrong kind?” “Wouldn’t she want some organic soap instead?” When walking into the market, my mind again battled the habit of patronizing this ritual. I almost got a potted plant, for in my valuation, at least they live a while and omit oxygen into the universe. My practicality threatened to ruin the whole task.
The beauty of this list is that is provides me a reason, a guideline, an anchor, to which I can cling when doubt or habit retreats my growth.
I bought the flowers because when I woke up, I wanted to. I wanted to celebrate her life, her light, the manner in which she uplifted me, our friendship, the honorable way she serves as a wife and a new mother, the hardworking spirit she imbues every task in front of her. I wanted to bring her pleasure knowing that it would not last.
This past year I asked a man, when was the last time he had given any one fresh flowers. Well over the age of 30 and seasoned in a longterm relationship, he informed me that he never had. My heart grieved a bit upon hearing this, signaling a hibernation of some sort in his spirit. My hope is when I am asked I can always say “recently….” For my list, I extend a grateful heart!