By Judy Joseph Mc Sween
The story began with two bougainvillea plants that formed the view outside my French windows. One plant had never bloomed in the three years that I had known it. The other bloomed for one year and then for two years it seemed to go on pause.
Each time I looked at the plants, unpleasant thoughts filled my mind. “Get rid of them!” Then memories. I remembered an avocado tree that my mother threatened to cut down because it had stopped bearing. The weekend that the cutting was scheduled, the tree began to flower.
I thought about treating them with fertilisers. My mind screamed “Why? There are bougainvillea trees growing wild at the roadside, that never receive an ounce of care and attention.”
So like Job, I began to wait it out, sometimes impatient and sometimes with “patient endurance”.
Then suddenly, blossoms began to appear, one by one, until one tree was absolutely laden. I hailed the experience as a true lesson from nature. It became my constant reminder that we all need a pause to rejuvenate. A reminder that nothing is impossible, that patience pays and that it’s not everything that requires my direct intervention.
Then, the unthinkable happened. I had just finished admiring the tree and headed upstairs. In the time it took me to return downstairs, my blossoming bougainvillea was no more. It had been slaughtered by my gardener.
As I sought to extract a rationale for his actions, I realised that he couldn’t fathom what I was feeling – empathy is rare. I left him to bask in his accomplishment of a “well trimmed” tree. I could have thrown a tantrum and allowed my amygdala some relief, but the shock of the loss was overwhelming. I was mortified. It was such a poignant and blatant lesson in “detachment”.
Well almost one year later, not only has the tree blossomed again, but the one next to it that hasn’t blossomed in four years is gifting me with gorgeous orange flowers. I’ve learnt my lesson. I will enjoy them while they are here and celebrate them when they are gone. Neither joy nor sorrow are lasting. I think that our real pain is in the expectation of permanence.
Till we meet again, it’s Judy Joseph Mc Sween, Time Out Specialist, encouraging you to take a Time Out to explore what are the attachments in your life that govern your emotional state. What might be the impermanence you need to accept?