What Insights Can Be Found In The Unexpected?
Has an ordinary experience ever led you to some unexpected insights?
Take this, for example:
I have a plant that has been a part of my life for oh-so-long.
I received it as a ‘thank you’ from a dear friend, maybe twenty years ago. Each time I have looked at this tenacious, understated Dracaena plant, I have been reminded of my friend and have felt her presence in the moment.
This Dracaena plant was one of four little plants arranged perfectly in a small, low, circular terra cotta dish garden. It stood maybe nine inches tall, towering above the other vines and plants.
For whatever reasons, this plant has survived and thrived with my near-weekly waterings, regular morning greetings and multiple repottings throughout the years.
The dish garden was replaced with planters of increasing sizes until the Dracaena most recently was standing nine feet tall on the floor, gracing the corner of my dining room with its long, slim green leaves.
In fact, it had grown so tall that it had to be propped just-so in the corner, lest it list to one side and topple over, planter and all.
I knew it was time to repot it into a heftier, larger planter to avoid future accidents.
I tackled the feat with great excitement and preparation: new planter, a bag of potting soil, new plant stake and a rolling tray to set the whole shebang on for easy mobility.
The one thing I did not count on was that, just as I began to move the Dracaena away from the wall, it would elegantly swoop down and double over, producing a loud crunch!, attesting to its now-broken stem.
My heart stopped for a beat.
Here I was, so excited to be nurturing this plant, and I end up abusing it!
Thoughts flashed through my mind… how long it had been part of my life, how much it represented my dear friend, how bare my home would feel without it.
And then I jumped into ‘Plant 911’ mode.
Can this be fixed? What can I do to put this back together? How much time do I have before it is “too late”?
I refused to accept that this was the end – this new planter, soil and stake would not go to waste!
I sprang onto the internet for help, and quickly and thankfully found just what I had hoped to discover: Dracaena Plant Care.
I promptly found three possibilities for saving my plant:
- cut off a section of stem and stick it in water, wait for roots to grow and new shoots to form
- cut off a section of the plant and stick it in soil, wait for roots to grow
- cut the top off the original stem, still in the soil, and wait for new shoots to grow out
I figured three chances were better than one, so I chose all three.
I had to save at least one part of this treasured plant, and in doing so, preserve the symbol of friendship.
A few insights come to light as I reflect on the whole escapade.
Letting go of one thing can multiply what comes back to you
I had one big, significant plant.
I would never have purposefully thought of giving that one up. It holds special meaning for me, keeping a friend close at hand when they are actually not so close at hand.
When this plant doubled over I knew I would not be able to put it back together. I took a chance, chopped it into three sections, said a little prayer, and waited.
Two months later now, what do I have?
I have a tall, leafy section plunked into soil that appears to be thriving, a stem stuck in a jar of water now growing roots and sprouting leaves, and new leaves growing out the top of the original rooted section.
This plant is alive and kicking, reminding me of my friend in not just one, but three different spaces in my home.
Trust in the process
I have to admit, I was not convinced from the get-go that any of these three options would work.
I had hoped that they would, at least one of them, and I wanted them to, but I was already thinking about where I might find a new Dracaena plant just in case.
Each day I inspected the three sections, looking for evidence of growth or decay.
But it takes so loooooong to see!
The one section of stem and leaves plunked into the soil seemed to be doing okay, nothing turning brown or falling off, so after a few weeks I did not scrutinize the three plants so much.
And then, voila!
Last week I noticed the tiniest of leaves sprouting out the top of the two other sections.
I am glad I did not become impatient and just throw out the whole crumpled plant that initial night. I am glad I had the patience to give the gift of time to these (in my mind) slow-growing sections.
It is another reminder that just because something does not run on my time schedule does not mean it will not produce the desired outcome.
Be open to the bigger picture
I nurtured this plant from its tiny beginnings into its towering grace. I was humbled and proud of my part in its long life.
I thought that the bigger it grew, the healthier it was.
Never mind the bare, leafless patches on its stem, or the way the top had been growing twisted and sideways to fit in the space, it was BIG and leafy and a soothing presence.
The moment it toppled over a new thought blazed through my mind: was what I thought this plant needed really what it needed?
Was a new, larger planter really what it needed? Or perhaps I should have just left it as it was?
Eyeing the three flourishing plants I now have, I realize that these are much healthier versions of the original.
My focus of holding onto the original was limiting my vision, that is, until I was literally bonked on the head.
Once that happened, I saw the bigger picture: I recognized the warning signs and shifted my perspective on this plant’s life.
This plant’s fall, I believe, literally saved its life.
I know, it is an ordinary plant for goodness sake, but it provided an opportunity for some profound insights to be revealed. Who would have thunk it?
Glimpsing over these multiple Dracaenas now reminds me of the infinite cycle of giving and receiving, of multiplying the gifts we have, of trusting in the unknown, and of stepping outside oneself, allowing the bigger picture to reveal itself.
And it leaves me with the urge to bestow at least one of my new plants upon a dear friend of mine, paying it forward, as they say.
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If the sun is shining, my Crosstrek is calling me to fill up her tank, throw open her sunroof, and head for the back-roads. With wind in my hair, I smile at everyone I see. Grace smiles back at me (even through the trees).