Last night an orchid I have been babysitting for exactly a year finally bloomed. I was beside myself with joy, I really thought the day would never come. You might not understand what’s the big deal here, but then you need to know one thing about me. I have a green thumb when it comes to things in the garden, but when it comes to indoor plants, I kill them all. There hasn’t been a single plant that survived me yet. I water them less, I water them more, I put them closer to the sunlight, I move them into the shade, nothing works.
So, when I got this orchid as a gift for my birthday last year I figured that I will enjoy it while it lasts. I heard that orchids were pretty picky and with my “talent”… You get the idea. To my amazement the orchid didn’t die. Sure, the blooms eventually wilted away, but the leaves stayed green and strong. So, I decided that maybe this one was strong enough for our relationship. And so it began.
I tried to listen to my plant (please don’t think I’m crazy) and hear or sense its desires. I placed it on a windowsill even though I was told before: No direct sunlight. I watered it when I felt it needed it, even though I was told before: Not too much water, just a cube of ice is enough.
We worked as a team, orchid and I; day after day, slowly it grew bigger and stronger leaves. There however were no flowers. At times I was losing hope and questioning why I bothered, but looking at how the orchid was growing and spreading roots, I figured there was a reason to all this.
Finally, one day, about six month ago a flower stem shot out and I was beside myself. It was growing longer and I decided to tie it to the sticks as I was told, to make it proper-looking. I tried to tie it and it broke. I was mad at myself and disappointed that the six months of care went down the drain. After a few days of cussing myself out and apologizing to the poor plant, I decided that from now on I will stop doing what I was told to do to grow a successful orchid, and just follow my intuition, my method, and give this another chance. I decided to stop counting how many months it has been since this or that and just care for the plant one small step at a time, day by day.
About two months ago, a new flower stem came out and started to clime its way up to the sun. It grew tall and strong, and tiny bulbs appeared. I really wanted to hold my breath but I decided to just be happy with what it was doing every day. Then, to my amazement, the flower stem that I broke months ago developed a side-shoot and began growing up as well. It grew even faster than the unbroken one next to it, with the bulbs popping out with an incredible speed as if it was competing with itself.
The revived broken branch developed three big bulbs that were about to bloom. I was getting super impatient and happy but then they began to dry and two of them fell off one by one. I was this close to giving up. Obviously I just wasn’t good at or meant to grow orchids.
After a lot of sighs from me and a lot of support from my mom, I decided: Damn it, I spent all this time on it and it’s a happy plant. Not perfect, so what? I will give it many more tries, as long as it will take. So I gave the orchid some plant food and water and breathlessly watched the last bloom, like the main character in O’Henry’s “The Last Leaf”. That bloom had already began to show same signs of near death as the other two, but I decided to keep faith.
Then last night I came home from work and got busy with the house chores. I was in the kitchen, fixing up dinner when I looked up at the windowsill where the orchid lives and gasped. The last bloom didn’t just fall off , it bloomed open! I was jumping, clapping my hands, running around the house and calling the kids to come and see it.
This morning I was looking a the orchid that now opened up more and looked so beautiful, and thought: There is a lesson I can learn here, a lesson I gave myself without realizing it.
Book writing, or any other dream-pursuing, is like growing an orchid. It can take a very long time, it can be very frustrating and at times disheartening, but in the end very rewarding. Don’t listen to every thing people say. Take some advice, but don’t take everything literally. Listen to your heart and your flowers (or book or whatever else) and follow your inner guide. When things seem hopeless and pointless, don’t lose heart. Find support in yourself and others and keep pressing on. If you really love it and really believe it, it will happen. And when it does, make sure to jump, clap, scream, run around the house and call people you love to celebrate with you.
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