We come home from a trip and one of the first things I do is check on Daphne, my cyclamen. We’ve been gone just long enough that I should have asked my neighbor to water her while she was visiting the pup but I didn’t and poor Daphne is now drooping. Bags down, pup snuggled, I water her. This sweet plant who sits on my desk, this sweet plant who consistently blooms the prettiest pink flowers, this sweet plant who, even when I occasionally forget to water her and she subsequently droops, will within the hour (in less than 60 minutes!) perk right back up as if I never neglected her. But this time, she takes longer to un-droop and I worry that I may have done it this time.
I see a little rise in her stems before going to bed yet remain unconvinced, feel terrible. I know she’s a plant. But do you see? She’s a plant. The next morning she seems better, less droopy and I think that she’ll make it. I watch her for the next few days, closely, patiently, apologetically. On the third day, I see new blooms unfolding and existing blooms reaching up instead of down. I breathe a small sigh of relief.
I gently pluck the stems that continue to turn downward and whose petals are browning and curling at the edges, the ones that will never bounce back. I pluck the yellowing leaves as well. I think to when the kids were little, how it used to pain my daughter when we deadheaded flowers, me trying to explain that clipping away the old, fading blooms makes room for new ones, that cutting back allows for fresh growth and fullness, that taking away what the plant no longer needs allows it to give over its energy, in full, to what awaits.
It’s a hard lesson at 7, is perhaps a hard lesson whatever the age, to understand (to give over to) this idea of cutting back, paring down, making (more) simple. How can that be enough we think, except that it pretty much always is: less not more, quieter not louder, deeper not shallower, easier not harder. Daphne gives her energy to what awaits and what’s arising, teaches me, models living for me. And I know she’s a plant…. but do you see?
The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
~ Hans Hoffman ~
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