I was walking to my car from campus earlier this week- a long detour down a hill and through a path with plenty of foliage on either side- and I saw this beauty of a flower catch my eye. I stopped and stared for a few minutes as I tried to figure out what about this flower caught my eye. My campus is very well maintained, and even though it’s getting colder there are many flower beds still looking great around campus. For the first time in weeks I pulled out my camera and took one of the first pictures I’ve taken in a long time. Now… I’m in a class where we’re supposed to learn the names of tons of different flowers – but I can’t tell you a thing about this flower, except where it’s located. I do know that it’s beautiful though. That in the midst of a physical world getting ready for white blanket of winter to descend upon it, this flower was able to stand out and remain colourful, bright and vivid, and open. For a day that was pretty crappy in terms of how I’ve been feeling lately, a day in what I feel has been a long line of bad days, this was a much needed little respite. A breath of fresh air, not so much physically as mentally and emotionally. Over the next day, I thought about this picture – about the flower- and I happened to remember this old little quote that I’ve always heard attributed to Buddha, though as I researched into it more I learned that that has been argued a lot. So I don’t really know who said it, or worded it this way, or came up with the original idea, but thank you to whoever that was.
“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change”
That thought has really stuck with me. I’ve turned it around. From the early morning hours at one job, to the late evening hours of another. As I’ve slugged through classes, meals, homework and commuting. The required naps, the inopportune bouts with colds, and the stresses of learning to live with MS. And all of that musing lead me to stop and ask myself if I’m taking the time to see the flower clearly.
My life is full of little miracles. Many I’ve recognized. Such as quick diagnosis with MS, relatively quick access to treatments and medication and the constant support of family and close friends. The ability to keep working. Even working two jobs. The miracle of having a car. To get from one point to another. A phone case that has withstood the many, many trips from my suddenly non cooperative hand to the floor. Bosses that understand that I just have days where I feel lousy and can be a bit of grouch or in a mood to not want to do much. And friends who put up with me in those times and still insist on having me over to do things. Even a friend who has taken it upon himself to remind to get certain things done every week, seeing as I’ve lacked the motivation and energy to do it on my own. Being able to have an outlet in photography, access to Netflix on the bad days when the couch is about as far as I can drag myself from the bedroom, and roommates willing to check up on me whenever they see me. My life is full of little miracles. And these are just ones that I notice.
And as I think about it more and more come to mind. Little things. Bigger things. I guess it’s appropriate that Thanksgiving is right around the corner as I can give thanks for all of these things. Despite this though, I’ve come to a realization over the last few day that’s been slow in coming, despite the fact that it has been staring me in the face for a long while now. And I think I’ve been pushing it off for so long because it scares me. I don’t want to face it. I don’t want to admit to it or own up to it because I feel like admitting to it will somehow make it more real, make it more personal and will have a greater effect on me than it already has. That realization? That I’m not really doing all that great.
I’ve learned that it can be easy day to day, to put up a bit of show, to put forth the positive face and let that be the one that everyone sees. And it’s the one I want to be the real one. I want to be okay. I want to feel great, to have energy, to be able to just live life as a college kid and go back to stressing over that cute girl in my class and the essay due in a few days and an internship opportunity. Instead, I feel my life has become a balancing act of work and school. Yet, the rules change daily. As one day I’ll feel normal and the next I feel that a huge weight is holding me to my bed. Days where I can operate freely, think clearly and quickly, and days where I feel like I’m in a fog. A dense, heavy fog that addles me and leaves me gasping for anything to anchor myself too. It’s become about survival, about making it from one day to the next and focusing just enough to make it through that day. To help the next customer, make it through the next paragraph, the next class. The next assignment. I haven’t focused on next week, or next month, in a long time. And honestly, most of the time lately I don’t feel like I remember to. Too often things catch me by surprise because I wasn’t thinking about them. And I’m sick of it. But there isn’t much I can do.
But I can at least admit it. I can at least own up to the idea… the reality… that I’m not doing so great. That I’m not coming out on top right now and I have no clue as to how to come out on top. Not yet. And that alone is a frustrating thought. I sit back and I feel like the odds are in my favour. Great friends. Fantastic family members who love me unconditionally. Teachers that have proven to be pretty understanding. Bosses. Circumstances… the whole nine yards and I feel like I’m down and I won’t catch up yet.
And then.. I think of this little pink flower. This pretty little pink flower that managed to arrest my walk and got me thinking. There truly is beauty in a flower. In the fact that even as winter comes on it will shine as bright as it can, as long as it can, and then it might wither away and die. And that sounds bad. Hell, it sounds awful. But, a plant is more than just its flowers. The plant as a whole will slow down, will change as it needs to because it knows that a harder time is coming. Less warmth and daylight. Less or even no opportunities to spread seed and survive. So it waits. It waits for spring. It waits for the time when the days begin getting longer and the nights shorter. For warmth to seep back into the world and colour to once more emerge into a beautiful canvas of spring green.
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that fall brings a change of colours. That you can look at one plant and see the greens shift into reds, oranges, yellows and browns. To watch this miraculous and beautiful shift of colour and then to watch as leaves fall to the earth, to get trampled on, sometimes gleefully jumped on, blown about, swept up and thrown away. It’s a rough and brutal sounding process, yet, they always come back. It’s a cycle. And in the meantime they grow.
Life is much the same I suppose. Or I see it being that way for me. I’m in a winter of sorts. A period of trials and hardships. A time where I feel there is less colour in my life. A time where things will be slower. But I need to remember that spring is right around the corner and that no matter how cold it gets I can make it through. That I can and will come out in colour again. And be bright and happy and better for it on the other side. My pretty little pink flower won’t always be there. It could be gone even now. But there will be more flowers. More colours. Spring always comes. Hope is always there waiting to carry us back into that sunshine.