Even though I know just about nothing about gardening, I took it upon myself to plant some flowers last week. Wait--that's not exactly true. What really happened is that last week a friend with gardening experience who was supposed to help me garden never showed up (after I woke up at 8:30 in the morning for her!), and since I had already bought flowers and soil from Home Depot, I decided to plant them myself.
First let me just say that I'm sure I did everything wrong, but that's not what this blog is about. (If you're interested in my incompetence, see Run, Forrest, Run, where it's laid out in detail for your reading pleasure.) What this blog is about is those flowers and what they mean...and what they don't.
We all know about typical symbolism in literature; we also all know that if we were reading a book and in this book we encountered a character who was ending an eighteen-year relationship that left her feeling stunted and stifled after two previous failed attempts and that that character just happened to plant some flowers in the midst of the tumult, the flowers would symbolize that character and her new life. We know that if the flowers thrive, the woman will, too; concurrently we know that should the flowers wither, the woman will follow suit.
Up until recently--and I mean very recently; I'm talking maybe two days--I looked at my life as if it were a book. I've made major life decisions based on signs and symbols, the most significant one being my reconciling with my husband after our first separation for no reason other than that when his best friend died, I was absolutely positive that the universe did it for the sole purpose of making my husband and me get back together, something that I'm just now starting to understand to be false.
With this information, it should be no surprise to you that as I planted those flowers last week, I looked at them in the exact manner that I described two paragraphs up. In the book of my life, those flowers were damn significant: they bloomed, I bloomed; they crumpled, I did the same.
For a five-day period, I scrutinized those flowers every time I walked in and out of my house. I looked for weakening stems and crispy, brown leaves, and I felt panicky whenever I saw a sign that the flowers, which I believe to represent my happiness, weren't going to make it because if they weren't, neither was I.
But then yesterday something happened. I was thinking about those damn flowers and how important they are when all of a sudden I realized something: those damn flowers aren't important at all. They're pretty, sure, and if they don't die, I'll definitely feel proud of myself for having planted something pretty, but other than that, they're nothing more.
They're just flowers.
And they do not determine my happiness. I do.