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August 20th, 2013

a garden of friends

Posted on 2013.08.20 at 12:45
I don’t have really good luck with orchids. They always look so beautiful and happy and perfect when I see them at the store. And when I happily buy one to bring home, it sits there looking pretty for weeks on end. But then, something happens. The flowers begin to droop, or leaves get spotty and turn brown. And sometimes, no matter what I do to care for them, they eventually… slowly… give up the ghost.

Months ago, I spoke to a co-worker of mine who, in his hobby life, grows orchids and enters all kinds of exotic flower shows. He offered me the best advice ever: “Don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes, orchids just die.” As it happens every now and again, this bit of advice was so incredibly obvious that I just didn’t consider it. In a lot of ways, I think it applies to life in many of its aspects. Take relationships, for instance. Like a plant, a relationship requires care, and nurturing and observation. Smother it, and you can crush it. Pay TOO much attention to it, and it can be fatal. Ignore it, and it will die. But like with the occasional orchid, sometimes you can really bend over backwards doing all the right things, and it can still die.

Over the course of years, I have seen this happen with some of the relationships in my life. Through all sorts of circumstances, I have met people who, at first, seemed like they could eventually become good friends. Heck, on some occasions, a few of these individuals really did move from the large pool of acquaintances to what I considered actual friends. But, it seemed like I had to really work at it – work at it A LOT! And sometimes, out of nowhere, I would find myself in a situation of coming under fire or some form of criticism from the “friend” for something utterly and completely innocuous. And it took long conversations and the replaying of incidents and conversations along with apology after apology from me before my “Friend” would move from being angry with me to simply putting me in some sort of perpetual state of friendship-probation.

At an earlier phase in my life, I put up with that crap. I put up with it A LOT! Why? Because I was insecure. I was riddled with self-doubt. And on some occasions, I really began to see myself as the reflection described by the “Friend”. I began to think that maybe I really was mean or vicious or cruel based on certain events, even though in reality what had happened really WAS innocuous and the offended party was nothing short of a NUTJOB looking to find something offensive just to have the opportunity to spout off. Yet, I kept trying. Despite the brown spots and the fading flowers, I kept trying and trying and trying to nurture the dysfunctional relationship. But I had to learn the hard way – you can’t be logical with an illogical person. You can’t rationalize with the irrational. Some people are just that damaged. Some relationships are just that broken.

Sometimes, orchids just die.

Roses may have thorns, but I do well with them. They fill my life with color. They fill the house with their fragrance. Sure, they require maintenance. I have to do what I can to take care of them. And yes, sometimes I get scratched or bleed. But they are amazingly resilient, as am I…
…and nowhere near as moody as orchids!

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