A Life Lesson from an Orchid

Someone gifted me an orchid some years ago. They’re gorgeous flowers, and I’m not usually one for flowers in my home (I prefer longer lasting greenery), but I loved them. Its arching branch produced many beautifully speckled and spotted flowers, pink and purple in hue. If you looked closely into the middle of the flower, its pollinating center was extremely intricate looking; thin stems covered in tiny bumps with a bulbous end. I was in awe of it, as I usually am with nature.

What I didn’t know about orchids though, was that their flowers do not last for long. They burst and bloom at their fullest for a few weeks, and then they slowly shrivel and drop off. When this started happening to mine, I assumed I had under or over watered it. I assumed my interference with it killed it. In a day or so, it was just an empty brown branch.

It sat on my dresser for months, just a pot holding a pitifully barren branch. I stopped watering it and giving it attention, assuming it died under my care, but for some strange reason, I didn’t get rid of it right away. I did a deep clean of my room some months after and parted ways with the plant, throwing it into a garbage bag without a second thought.

A couple days later, my mom asked where my orchid went.

“Oh, it died. All the flowers fell off!” I exclaimed to her.

“Were the leaves still alive?” she asked. I paused. I didn’t even look at the leaves before throwing it away, but upon second thought, I realized the leaves were bright and sturdy, very much alive.

“They were, but I assumed it was dead since the flowers all died and fell off,” I stammered, trying to defend my action. My mom smiled. She enlightened me and told me that the orchid doesn’t stay in bloom for very long, but as long as I still took care of it, it would have bloomed next year. I felt extremely silly, now well aware of my mistake. I threw out a perfectly fine plant!

Since I’m a writer, my brain works in metaphors. I find the meaning in everything, perhaps to a fault, but that’s for another discussion. I was gifted another orchid by a family member when I moved out of my mom’s house. It was in partial bloom. I remembered my old orchid and had a stark flashback.

I think the orchid, and specifically my mistake with it, was a lesson in how I currently view myself as a young adult. I was seeing the best part of the orchid’s life; the prettiest, flashiest, finished product of its cycle. And once it disappeared, I assumed I was seeing its death, its complete ending. And the in-between? I assumed it was dead too. I only appreciated its finished product.

And in a way, I see myself the way I saw the orchid. I don’t allow myself the time to grow and change, just like I didn’t allow the orchid to keep growing. I assume my own “in-between” phase is not a valuable part of my journey. I see other people’s “finished product” and think I’m not far long enough, not where I’m supposed to be. I’m the bare branch while everyone else is in bloom. I am impatient with my journey and make rash assumptions about myself, just as I did the orchid.

I realized though, that things may look lost and incomplete on the outside, but below, they are healthy and teeming with life. The universe knows exactly what it’s doing, and as humans, we are no exception to the universe’s ultimate forces. The universe doesn’t throw things away because they’re unfinished; there’s a trust in the process, an innate knowing of what’s to come next. And as nothing short but of a child of the universe, of a birthing from the Earth itself, I shouldn’t doubt her. I will have my time to bloom. I require constant care and attention from myself to flourish, just as the orchid does. I may feel unsure about myself and where I’m meant to be at this current moment, but the universe knows where I’m going, and in turn, so do I; I just have to tap into that universal knowledge.

My current orchid sits empty by my window. I water her once a week. She’s a constant reminder that we rise and fall as humans. Some of us are in our rises and some of us our in our falls; all of it though, is on divine timing.

One Foot in the Door: Technology Edition

Every so often, some variation of a ‘then vs. now” trend pops up somewhere on the internet. A good example was the 10-year challenge that happened some time ago. Basically, you were to post a photo of yourself from 10 years ago next to a photo of yourself currently. That’s it. And funnily enough, typing it out makes me realize how futile and vain “challenges” like these are. But nonetheless, they take the internet by storm, and the more shocking your transformations are, the more attention you’ll receive. I could write a think piece alone on how ridiculously conceited that is, and how our generation (generation z, 1997-present) has such an obsession with “glow-ups,” but that is not today’s topic. These types of challenges always shock me to a certain extent, because I’m mostly surprised people have documentation of what they looked like as a teenager/young adult. That is the topic today.

This should not be a surprise to me. I grew up in the prime time of budding technology. However, this was also an awkward time for regular people consuming technology. Cell phones were being pushed left and right, but most of my peers didn’t own one. YouTube was a brand-new platform (can you believe I remember a time where YouTube ads didn’t exist?) that was mostly for that low-quality footage of your baby brother trying a lemon for the first time and not for the ad-generated, revenue making monster that it is today. Technology was everywhere but in the regular consumer’s hands. And blissfully until I was an adult, I assumed this was the experience for everyone else too.

I learned quickly that this in fact, was not everyone’s experience. I remember one friend in 6th grade having a magenta coloured cell phone, those ones where you’d turn it sideways and push up the screen to reveal the keyboard. No one else in my grade owned a phone. This disparity was not apparent to me as an 11-year old. I just thought it was cool my friend had a cell phone.

I began to learn as a young adult that the kids who had technology from a young age had an advantage over me. The obvious advantage was having more access to resources and such, but the less obvious advantage was having documentation of yourself. I find that an important aspect of life, especially living in this technology driven time. It’s special to have that goofy photo of yourself at your first middle school dance. Its special to have a remembrance of the first time you tried makeup and thought it looked great. To have a visual track record of your life to me, is a distinct privilege that only the kids with early access to technology have.

I have none of this, and I sometimes yearn for visual memorandum of my life.

I was painfully self-aware as a child. My psyche, my thoughts, my intuition, were always the forefront in my mind. I was not a lighthearted child, and I was never interested in most mainstream things (I risk sounding extremely “pick-me,” but I mean it in the most genuine way). Along with this, I didn’t get a cell phone until I was 15. I didn’t have a social media presence until I was 17/18/19. I snuck a twitter account behind my parent’s back at 15 but got that taken away. I didn’t have a phone with a decent camera until I was 18 and consequently didn’t start taking photos of myself until that age. I’m 23 now, and I hardly have photos of my teen years.

It’s a very strange dynamic to have grown up during the peak of new technology, yet not have a part in it to begin with. There’s a metaphor lying here, about privilege, about how fast technology moves; there’s a metaphor here. But honestly, I just feel like I was left out of a pivotal movement in society. That’s it. It’s just my inner child wishing I could have documented myself at a young age. I’m sure I would have felt like my existence had more validity than I thought it did. Don’t we all?

Eggs on a Plate without the Plate

I was at value village with my mom one day, a regular occurrence for us. We were looking through the art section when I came across this super strange hanging egg painting. I was immediately drawn to it. My mom commented and said it looked like a painting from Salvador Dali. I really wanted it, but I gave it some thought and decided it would not go with anything that was on my walls, so I left it. A couple weeks later, I went back on my own, and the painting was still there. Naturally, I picked it up. I brought it home and did a quick google search to see if I could find the artist. To my surprise (or maybe not; my mother is always right), it was a Dali painting. It is called “Ouefs sur le Plat sans le Plat” or “Eggs on a Plate without the Plate.” Dali described his inspiration for the painting as an “intra-uterine memory,” basically describing this exact scene as something he saw while in the womb, down to the warm colour palate and limp, hanging fried egg. I found that so strange, but in the best way. It hangs above my dining table, and I am just itching to have someone over so they can ask about the painting and I get to say the phrase “intra-uterine memory.” Like seriously, how cool is that!

This time spent alone at the thrift store, one I would frequent a lot in my childhood, made me think about how I find comfort in clutter. How I find comfort in things that are not necessarily practical but make me feel something. How I find comfort in things that do not match, in things that seem rough and worn out. How I find comfort in things that are used, that have stories of their own before I bring them home.

Growing up, my mother decorated our small apartments in this kind of fashion. Our furniture was almost always hand-me-downs from her brothers and sisters. Nothing in any of the small spaces we lived in ever matched. The idea of furniture and the general ambience of a house ‘matching’ was a foreign concept to me. Kitchen utensils, plates, bowls, were either thrifted or stolen from restaurants or workplaces. Everything in our home had a story, and it was never, “this was on sale at ikea and I thought it matched our accent chairs well, so I bought it.” It was more like, “I stole this whisk from work one day” or, “a customer read my aura and gave me this moonstone ring because she felt it matched me” or, “I found this mirror in the garbage driving home.” (all real stories from my mother).

Now, as an adult, I find myself decorating the same way. I dreamt about being able to decorate my own apartment as a child. I never saw the specifics in my mind. Just the idea of having autonomy and free will over how my space would look and feel was something I always wanted. I find myself drawn towards the weird art, the chairs with piling, the antique looking forks. I find myself drawn towards things with a backstory, things with character, and I am always able to find these types of things at thrift stores. There is something special about picking up a used item and knowing that someone else owned it, spent the necessary time with it, and decided to part ways with it. And now, in this moment, you have it. It is instances such as these that give me a sliver of insight into the connection we all have as human beings. I hope to keep the strange egg painting for a while. I think it is the first thing I have owned with a funny little backstory. I hope to be able to explain the phrase “intra-uterine memory” to the first person who asks about the painting. I hope my funny little backstory will inspire others to pick up things that have soul in them, that have character, that make them feel something. There is something indescribably comforting about things that have already been owned, and I want everyone to experience it.