This is my plant. It’s a good plant (very quiet, doesn’t eat much, and has only thrown one small party) and in the months we’ve been together it has taught me a lot about resilience and self care.
Due to some past experiences with overwatering (RIP little succulent), I water my plant very infrequently. Because of this, every couple of weeks –three if I’m lucky– I will either wake up or come home from work to find that my poor plant has wilted. Like, a lot. Think sautéed spinach. When this happens I always panic a little, rush it over to the sink to give it some water, and wait anxiously to see if this time I’ve finally killed my little buddy. Fortunately for me, I seem to have acquired the world’s hardiest plant and within about 30 minutes it always bounces back to its usual, perky self. I’m not sure how it keeps coming back the way it does, but this quick return to vitality never fails to make me reflect on my own struggles and how effectively (or not) I am able to take care of myself and bounce back from them.
Honestly, when I think about my plant and its unending series of near death experiences, I get strangely encouraged. For some reason, the idea that this poor plant can survive the level of trauma it goes through on a bi-weekly basis makes me think that I can do it too. I mean, how much stronger am I than a plant? For that matter, how much stronger are you than a plant? If this little plant, which is a living thing, can survive being routinely deprived of one of only two things it needs to survive, what’s stopping me from overcoming the comparatively small setbacks and hardships that I go through in my day-to-day life? I know it’s kind of a weird comparison, but I think there’s power there. So, the first plant related lesson I want to share with you today is this:
I’m stronger than a plant
I know it’s a little weird, but I’ve found that when things get uncomfortable, or frustrating, or overwhelming, that repeating this little mantra can make me laugh and help keep things in perspective.
And that brings us to the second point I’d like to discuss:
When we’re hurting, or feeling overwhelmed and beaten down, the way we choose to care for ourselves matters.
When my plant is in distress, it’s crucially important that I give it what it needs: water. In those situations, adding plant food, or different dirt, or some other crazy horticultural remedy to the pot would be pretty useless. It needs water. And we’re the same way. Unfortunately for us, though, we aren’t plants, and that means we have to work a little harder to figure out the things that will pick us up when we’re down.
Personally, I tend to make some dumb decisions when I’m down. I don’t do anything too destructive, my go-to bad habits pretty much stop with eating copious amounts of junk food, playing too many video games, and sleeping too much, but often these decisions are about as effective as giving my plant a coke to drink. It’s difficult at times, but I’m working on doing things that I know help me feel better, like exercising, painting miniatures, playing guitar, or even just cuddling with my wife. I truly believe that each of us knows, for the most part, the things which will be most helpful for us. The trick is making the sometimes difficult decision to do them.
So, yeah. I know these lessons are simple and the metaphor is a little goofy, but I think they’re important. So, the next time you’re struggling and feel like my little plant after a couple weeks of drought, remember that you’re stronger than a plant and you’ll make it through. Then, when you’re ready, figure out what your water looks like and give yourself a drink.
Thanks for reading, you’ve got this,