A new leaf
Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know What life is, you who hold it in your hands
Spathiphyllum or peace lilies are evergreen flowering plants that grow in the tropical regions of the Americas and Southeastern Asian. I grow mine in my bedroom and their name is Eliot - after T.S. Eliot, of course.
Eliot. With their beautiful embroidered foliage and seasonal bloom. While Eliot has lived many lives before I invited them into my home (I'm sure of this - they have a big personality), I had just arrived into my own life. Or rather, I had decided I was solely responsible for my life and the path I would take. The idea terrified me. So it was time - I had decided - to be the supporting character in someone else's story.
Plant tip 1:
When leaves are brown, it often means that your plant is being under-watered.
You many wonder, how is that possible? But the soil is moist?
It may have to do with the roots. The roots are so tangled in with one another that they cannot absorb water through the soil. The roots are so messed up that its quite literally strangling itself.
People are very similar, I think.
At the end of a failing relationship, and into the arms of another, I had not yet fully accepted that it was okay being alone and creating a life alone. Like many people, I thought that an unsuccessful love life was proof of a moral failing; that I was simply unworthy to be loved by anyone. In my childhood I had felt utterly abandoned and rejected. I felt like there weren't many friends or people I could talk to. So I was, and still kinda am, afraid of waking to an empty home without music.
When I tried to make friends, I learnt to hide parts of myself. While on the surface, I had many friends and was well-liked in my formative years, it was a mask I used to keep myself safe. I thought that if people liked this mask then I could later become my fuller self and they would accept me. I was disappointed to find that many people who had liked this mask often didn't like or recognise other parts of me.
Plant tip 2:
When leaves are yellowing, it often means that your plant is being over-watered. The plant is drowning. It cannot absorb or accept more than it can take.
People, too, are the same.
And that was how I was gifted Eliot. They were given to me by my partner at the time and at that point, I had thought this person kind and thoughtful when we first met. Plants are always a welcomed gift given by those who can recognise life's gratitude in a simple leaf. Perhaps, this was a thought I had naively. But I'm a big believer of giving people the benefit of the doubt and this is why.
I had read a story a few years ago that I've started to remember fondly, though the providence and author escape me. This person was told by their grandmother that plants can tell a person's soul, that they grow because they recognise the care and love within a person. And so, they began a hobby where they would nurse sick or dying plants back into health - going into nurseries and buying the rejected and discounted plants. I still believe that people - under the right support, environment and love - will always choose kindness and compassion. We all try to be better people. We all face the same insecurities and fears, especially about being alone.
In many ways, people are just like plants. We grow under the right conditions (some more specific than others) and with loving words. There were definitely times in my life where my plants became sick because I was sick. I was neglecting myself and it became obvious in my surroundings. I would forget to water them and to water myself.
I've spent so long watering the garden of others. I've spent too long wondering if the grass is really greener on the other side. It's a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy - of course the grass is the greener on the other side if you forget your own peace.
Oh, my friends. You hold so much life in your hands.