I have had kind of a terrible relationship with houseplants. Fresh cut flowers are great because while they are beautiful to admire, I can replace them week to week with no hurt feelings. My houseplants, on the other hand, are the green leafy potted plants that I have really tried to love and nurture. Yet, they have always died.
The first problem was positioning. The sunniest place in my house is between a big window and a cold flow of air conditioned air. When I would sit my houseplants here to get the most sun, the AC would somehow suck the life out of them.
So, I opted for setting them on the porch. Word of plant thefts in my neighborhood made me feel really leery about this. Other items of importance, such as several bicycles, had been stolen from my porch – even cut off the chain. To top it off, my neighbor, who is obviously into criminal activity on some level, slyly threatened to steal plants left out too long.
Then, there was the issue of neglect. I say that I “tried” to nurture them, but when it came to watering, sometimes I was too busy, too hurried, or out of the country for weeks. I knew that they could not take care of themselves on their own, but somehow I expected them to be okay.
At some point, I stopped caring. I was willing to buy a new houseplant every two weeks if I had to, for the benefit of having a live plant in the house, without being attached to if it died or not. They could always be cheaply and easily replaced.
Enter the anomaly. The plant that survived my erratic watering; yet, still shines for me. The plant that somehow pushed open my curtains with its vines and got the sunlight that it needed. The plant that put as much effort into sticking with me as I do into taking care of it. I didn’t water it enough at first because I expected it to die like the others. I probably didn’t let it get enough sun. But it hung in there. Its resilience made me want to work harder. Like wow, you’re still here, let me take better care of you.
Many of us have had a string of past relationships kind of like this story. We put in good efforts in the past, sometimes making some mistakes, but still the relationship died. Over time, we subconsciously lowered our expectations. We were no longer looking for it to last, but to simply serve our needs for the moment. When signs of death began showing, we simply discarded that relationship and entered another. The problem with this pattern is that when a potential great long term relationship or marriage comes along, we are already in that mode of giving only partial effort and discarding maybe too soon.
I would like to encourage anyone who has faced these types of issues to take the time to let go of the past. Let go of the stories of past houseplants. Water the one you have. Water it daily. Nurture it. Find a sunny spot in your life for it to grow fully. Really give it your all. Then, if it does eventually fade away, you will only be better for it. You will have truly loved. But more likely, it will last and thrive beautifully.
(c) 2015 Nikala Asante