my friend the peace lily

I feel like the peace lily by my window that overlooks the waterfall behind our apartment. every few days he starts to droop and needs more water, then (once watered) magically he springs to life, his giant fanning leaves reaching skyward, his white papery flowers standing at attention once more. it seems to me like a plant on the edge. always on the edge of just withering away, giving up the ghost, calling it quits. but no matter how low and droopy his foliage gets a little water always brings him back from the edge of peril.

i suppose that’s a bit dramatic, but i’ve been told that I have at times tended toward the dramatic side of things. i don’t think that assessment is entirely fair. i don’t think other people are dramatic enough. I think the peace lily has it right. life gets heavy, too heavy to hold up your limbs, too heavy to survive it and you have to find a drink of water, something to resurrect you yet again. i think if you’re not dramatic about things (at least sometimes) you aren’t being entirely honest. this life is a freaking crap shoot. 

me and that peace lily by the window have an agreement. when i brought him home from my grandmother’s funeral, I told him he wasn’t allowed to die. It would be too sad. I have never managed to keep plants alive, and when brought home after a funeral, a plant only serves to remind me that life is all-too-fragile and sometimes regardless of how hard I try something can just come along and wipe out all my efforts. like crazy tiny spiders in my mini rose bush, choking out it’s little life, stealing from me any future blossoms, or the fig tree in the back yard that gave us a harvest of figs one season then inexplicably withered up, losing all it’s leaves and becoming bare and brittle. it’s too painful, watching green things die, so I just opt out – even though i’ve come to understand how much i love green living things in my home.

so when my mother offered me one of the many peace lilies that crowded the floor of my grandma’s living room, i accepted… fully afraid that the bright, alive plant full of hope and vigor would soon suffer the fate of all other plants that enter my home. a slow and painful death. so me and mr. peace lily have an agreement. I give him water when i see him start to droop, and he stays alive. and while this might seem like a silly or duh, kind of agreement between me and my plant life, it’s very important to me that he keeps his end of the bargain. as long as he sits there boastfully fanning out his lovely green and white arms, there is hope for me. there is hope that something in this world works the way it was meant to. that there was a design created and an agreement struck a long long time ago that says there is some sort of order that we can count on in life and things aren’t complete chaos and out of our ability to find a rhythm and count on it. yes, everything dies, no we can’t control it, but while we are living we can find the rhythm of the living things and learn to traverse the ebb and flow of it all.

so as long as he keeps up his end of the bargain, i will keep mine and not desert him when i walk in the living room and all his leaves are folded against the pot he lives in feigning lifelessness, i won’t give up in frustration and hopelessness and say whatever, and throw him out. i will give him water, and he will live. and i will learn everything i can from him while he is with me.

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