Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Orchid

There are three flowers that mean a lot to me. So much, in fact, that I plan to have them intertwined in a tattoo up my back once I have the money to pay my friend who's an artist to design it and the tattoo artist to implement it. One of these flowers, of course, is the lily. I love the lily for its openness. While all flowers obviously open, when the lily blooms it looks like it has finally broken out of the constraints holding it in and presented itself to the world. At least that's how it appears to me. The second flower is the lotus, because of its ties to both Buddhism and yoga. It seems to be a base, or a root. In the tattoo image in my mind, the lotus sits at the bottom, anchoring in the other flowers, letting them bloom above it. Finally, there's the orchid.

The orchid has symbolized love in my life. Not necessarily just romantic love, but overall love - family, friends, personal relationships. A few years back, my boyfriend at the time and I got in a horrific fight. So awful that I thought surely it was the end of our relationship. When Valentines Day rolled around, he made reservations at my favorite restaurant, and he brought me two beautiful potted flowers. One was an orchid. I loved both, but for some reason, the orchid stood out - I think I was already partial to them - and from that point on, it has symbolized love for me. (For the record, it worked. We were together for quite a while after that).

I have taken to keeping an orchid in a pot by the window of my apartment. It almost serves as a measuring stick of sorts. My orchid will be flourishing, and then a relationship or a friendship goes south, and incredulously the flower keels over the next day, with no rhyme nor reason. Or the plant will be doing just fine, and suddenly start dying a slow and painful death, and I'll realize that a relationship in my life is doing the same. It's kind of creepy in how accurate it is.

When I went to the Middle East in April, I was sure it was a death sentence for my pretty new orchid. Two weeks with nobody to water it, and to add insult to injury, the temperatures sky rocketed to unseasonably high levels. I was sure I'd return to a stem of a plant only. Yet when I got back, not only had it not died (though admittedly there were a few older flowers that had dropped off), but it was thriving. Miraculous! I didn't know what it meant, but it had to be good.

As I blogged about a couple of weeks ago, I had to more or less say goodbye to someone in my life who no longer belonged in that role. It was heartbreaking, but necessary. At the same time, there have been some positive, rather unexpected changes in my personal life as well. Today, I noticed that all of the old flowers from the orchid were lying at its base. For a moment, I was sad - this never pairs with anything positive. But then I realized four new very strong-looking buds had formed on the stem. Much more ideal.

Maybe my orchid is once again spot on. Perhaps at times we need to shed all of the old, dying pieces in our life. Let them drop away, like the orchid flowers whose time on the plant is over, and allow for the new buds to form. If it's any symbolism of my life, this is promising. The buds could be anything - new adventures, new friendships, new experiences. Or, perhaps I just need to get more consistent with watering my orchid, so that it thrives consistently instead of it continuously dying, only to be reborn when I remember to treat it with the kindness it deserves. But then again, there's a lesson in that too. 

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