All Along We Are Blooming
To set the vibe, I recommend Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson.
Growing up, we had houseplants. I specifically remember my dad teaching me how to take care of the jade plant - which for a long time - was the only houseplant I thought existed. Outside of cut flowers in a vase on the table, the jade plants in my home somehow lived for eons in pots placed in the sunniest areas in the house. My grandparents had jade plants. My aunts and uncles had jade plants. I thought it was normal to have jade plants (and jade plants only) in your living space.
So, when my roommate and I moved into our Philadelphia row home, I knew we would have plants. My first houseplant? You bet it was a jade plant. But now as an "adult" I learned that there were many types of houseplants I could decorate our row home with. Spider plants, aloe vera, and peace lillies were all added to our row home. They were in my bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen, outside - anywhere the light would shine. I began to believe that any nook or cranny in our home could be the future spot for a new houseplant. This idea only multiplied when I bought my first home. After years of building a contingency of houseplants I moved in ready to decorate with all of the greenery my heart could imagine. Shelves were installed in front of my bedroom windows so I could bring the outside inside with me. Houseplants found themselves on window sills, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in the dining room, on the porch - my home was becoming filled with greenery. But this was only achieved through friends and family offering me new plants and cuttings. And it was one plant in particular, that was gifted to me from my mom, that helped me learn nature's greatest teaching.
My mom transplanted a clover looking type plant into a pot for me. I remember her telling me it was incredibly easy to maintain and grew without restraint. I was excited to add this new plant to my collection and had spent some time thinking about where it would live inside my home. So when my mom gave me this plant I was struck by the brilliant and large clover leaves that would reach towards the sun during the day and fold in on themselves during the night. This plant was delicate, the leaves paper thin and any moving air looked like it might threaten the small stalk that held the clover towards the sky. And while I was awed by the plant's beauty, I was distracted by a small smattering of white flowers that were blooming off to the side from the magnificent clover leaves. The flowers didn't compare to the glory of the clover that could open and close with the sun. The flowers felt like an eye sore to a brilliant display of nature's beauty. So when I took my new plant from my mom, I looked at the plant and thought, "that couldn't be a flower, that must be a weed that somehow got into this mix." And so without a second thought, I put my hand into the pot and plucked the flower out. And I remember that I did it because the flower didn't look like what I expected a flower should look like. Especially what a flower should look like for this glorious plant in front of me. So, after I plucked the flower out, I threw it away and placed this new plant in its resting place in my home. And what happened when my plant found its resting place? It started to die.
Over the next few months, small clovers would bloom. They would greet the sun and the moon and quickly die off, withering into the soil. The plant that was gifted to me with so many clovers that I couldn't keep count now only could maintain 5 or 6 clovers before they would die off. The flowers, which I learned were the plants flowers, were nowhere to be found. And once I learned that I plucked the flowers of a plant that was in perfect health, I made it a personal mission to restore this plant to its fullest life. Over time, the plant tested living areas around my home, but with no success. I didn't believe the plant was actively dying, but it definitely wasn't actively thriving either. It was maintaining. So I took a new stance on operation "fullest life," and settled on one specific spot in the house that got the most light - my living room window sill. I thought that here I could at least maintain the plant's life and adjust its care to the sunniest spot in my home. Months passed and I learned how to read the plant to determine when it needed water or to be rotated. Slowly, new clovers began to bloom and began to last. Unfortunately, I missed a watering every now and then and those new clovers would die off pretty quickly. But with time, attention, and a bit more consistency, new clovers bloomed and began to stick around. And one day, I looked over at my plant, and in the middle of countless clovers open to the sun, I saw the beginning of white flowers starting to unfurl.
I snapped the image you see above. Of a plant living its "fullest life." Of beautiful clovers stretching and an equally beautiful stalk of flowers blooming. And I was struck.
Not just because it finally happened - the plant had returned to it's full health just like how it had been given to me. But that in the plant's journey, I saw myself. When my mom first gave me the plant, I was going through my own cycle of regeneration. I had moved out of a city I had called home, transitioned out of a relationship, and was putting my own roots down in the town I grew up in. I felt overwhelmed with feeling like I had made a massive mistake and I felt apprehensive about thriving. To me, having these feelings and not acknowledging them was my own metaphorical way of plucking out the flower before I even found my resting spot. And the months after realizing that I was worried I had made a mistake and was fearful of thriving in a town that held a history for me but I didn't know if it held a future; I tried to find my own resting spots. I made great friendships, but didn't integrate them all together so they didn't feel sustainable. I learned that I loved to be outside and that hiking breathed new life into me, but I only let myself hike when other people planned it - so I was often relying on someone else for that sense of new life and joy. I realized that some of my most important relationships existed so far away from me that my truest sense of connection was only when we were physically together - which was limited throughout the year. I kept rotating between these resting spots thinking that I would find my own "fullest life" someway. That maybe if I rested long enough, all of my friendships would integrate themselves together, someone would plan outdoor adventures for me when I wanted them, and all of my people would move close to me.
So I rested, just like I rested my plant on the living room window sill, on those hopes. But I'm pretty impatient. So when my feelings and worries didn't disappear during that rest time, I began to learn myself and learn what I needed to at least maintain during that rest. I stayed connected to my great friendships and found myself sharing about my friendships with other friends and being open to opportunities for us all to come together. I started to plan hikes. I would text friends, pick out dates, and even choose our next trail to explore. I continued visiting the people in my most important relationships, and they kept visiting me too. And somehow, outside all of my control, the people in my most important relationships moved closer.
So when I saw the bloom on my clover looking type plant, I was struck. Because, not only is this plant blooming, I'm blooming too. This year, a few days after the above photo was taken, so many of my friends from so many different groups came together to celebrate my birthday with me. This month, I'll be attending my first hike with a local outdoors club that plans hikes and outdoor adventures in my area. And this summer, one of my longest and most treasured friends is moving closer with her family. This is blooming.
I know this moment of blooming wouldn't have happened with out the Summer, where I shed my leaves and worried that I made a huge mistake and wouldn't be able to build a future in my home town. I know it wouldn't have happened without the Fall, where things disappeared and I didn't integrate my friendships or ask others for help in getting outside. And I know this blooming wouldn't have been possible without the Winter, where I felt the nothingness of having some of my closest loved ones be so far away. I now know that each season is needed for my blooming and I've also learned that regardless of what season I'm in (or anyone is in for that matter) all along, we are blooming.