Friday, June 17, 2016

To Breathe Deep The Scent of Life's Limited Time Span

I have a decidedly black thumb.

I have no outdoor garden space, and the only indoor plants I ever tried to grow were adorable, small pink roses that were given to me as a get well gift. Sadly after a short time of thriving and blooming, they fell victim to the Great Aphid Invasion of 2003 and had to go.

It was many years after that, toward the end of a particularly frustrating, long winter that I first decided that imitation spring was better than no spring at all.

So I headed to the local craft store, where they have every type of fabric flower and plastic plant you can imagine (more than I could ever name) and I came home with a bag full of sale-bin treasures.

A few of my first faux flower purchases.

For a time, they were enough to satisfy my need to have flowers around me.

I felt that I finally understood, for a little while, at least, the reason behind the dusty old centerpieces my Grandmother kept in her house; one on the kitchen table, one on the table in the hall. Another in the living room, one on the dresser in the bedroom. (There was, too, of course the bowl of faux fruit. My sister actually ate one of the rubber grapes once and lived to tell the tale.) And on the walls of my grandparents' home that I so loved, still-life paintings of what else? Bowls of fruit and flower arrangements.

It’s only now, after some time (read, years) of living with these 'plants' and acknowledging the age they’ve taken on, I am beginning to realize that they’re not serving the purpose they were intended to any more. They’re not making me feel better; they’re making me feel worse. And they’re probably really bad for my asthma, too.

So, out the fake flowers must go.

I have already started the purge, but I find more of them hiding in the least expected places; in little bottles behind picture frames, and in containers I’ve had so long that I’ve become blind to them. 

Every time I turn around there’s another bunch of faded fabric roses (which would be a great title for a book, now that I think about it; maybe I should photograph them before I throw them away…) or a little sprig of plastic plant climbing like artificial ivy up from a pot on a bookshelf.

These are not the things I want to surround me any longer.
I want living things in my space, not repositories of dust that pale and grow dingy but never die.

Because we will all die, one day, and living flowers will remind me that life is poignant and fleeting and meant to be nurtured, even if clipped at the stems.

I want to breathe deep the scent of life's limited time span in all its sweet, heartbreaking glory.

I want real roses and carnations, even if I have to buy them myself.

I want to tend to them, trim the stems day to day so they can take in fresh water; prolong their limited existence for as long as I can.

I want to see them and be reminded of the fragility of life and how any one of us can be cut short at any time, and that is what makes now the most important time because as Captain Picard once said on Star Trek (and you can never go wrong quoting Picard) you should “Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.”

It’s been a long time since made now the most precious time, especially since for the past year or so especially now has always been pretty bad.

Losing my Dad the way I did was especially hard, something that once again is at the forefront of my mind as Father’s Day approaches. Yet I can’t just accept that this is the way that life is always meant to be, or that means giving up on it ever feeling better.

If I give up on it ever feeling better, there will be no reason to fight the continual desire I have just to close my eyes and go back to sleep until it’s time to face another day (and then repeat the process…)

I’ve lost myself in looking back, in getting stuck in the wheels of my anxiety disorder. I’ve lost my motivation to vicious Bipolar depression to the point where I have slept literally months of my life away at this point in 2016.

I don’t want to sleep my days away any more, and I don’t know where to begin to get better (so far medication adjustments have been a bust) but starting where I am seems like the only place I can begin.

So, the fake flowers are going. As will old artwork I no longer feel an attachment to and any object that I cannot justify a very good reason for keeping (I just bought some bestselling book on a Japanese method of tidying up your home, we’ll see if anything from it resonates and sticks.) Our apartment is small, and every inch of real estate is precious. I’ve let too much clutter creep back in since the great purge when we moved in four years ago, it’s time to go another round.

I’ll start with replacing the false flowers with real ones, the first chance I get. Our supermarket has gorgeous carnations and roses, always, for a very reasonable price so I think this is a small indulgence I hope to be able to allow myself for a while to come.

My mother always used to say that having cut flowers in the house made her sad, because they die.

But to me that fact always made them more precious. They, like us, have that limited lifetime, with every second a ticking clock down to the moment of their demise. Perhaps that is why they are so treasured, and so beautiful.

Maybe they’re the reminder I need right now that things don’t last forever, good or bad. That things change, and there is new life on carnation stems that will bloom even ten days after you buy them if you just spend a little time tending to and caring for them each day.

It’s time I tended to myself a little each day, too, and see if, after some nurturing, I can’t start to beat back the darkness that surrounds me now.

I know I’m under it, in here, somewhere.

I just have to find myself again, beneath the piles of old paintings, books whose messages no longer serve me, and those bunches and bunches of dusty old craft-store flowers.