I’m a murderer.
A serial killer, really. Over the years there are dozens — maybe hundreds of victims of negligent homocide that I have shamefully covered up and discarded. I want to stop. I really do. But in all my life I have never, ever owned a plant I haven’t eventually killed.
It’s so embarrassing. I mean, sure, in my 20s when I was an irresponsible college student it was to be expected. I would bring house plants to the brink of death and then take them over to my dad’s. Dad is the plant whisperer. He had some mysterious concoction… not sure what was in that stuff, though I vaguely remember something about Coca Cola and amonia. At any rate, he would sprinkle them with potion and whisper magic words to them for a few weeks, and then they would be green and thriving and I would take them home. And three months later the cycle would start again.
With age, experience, wisdom and maturity, nothing has changed. I’ve lost count of the number of kind, well-intentioned, unknowing accomplices who have gifted me plants to show their appreciation over the years. Orchids, polka-dot plants, potted flowers, succulents, they all met the same end.
My most recent boss, Wally, graciously gave each person in the department a poinsetta every December for us to display in our offices. Mine never survived more than a week or two. One year, I put the poinsetta on my desk and the NEXT DAY it was dead. I kid you not. I panicked because Wally notices everything.
To hide my poinsettaless desk, I kept my office door “mostly closed” all morning — you know, in that “I’m definitely here, getting work done, Boss, but I am extremely busy so please don’t disturb me unless there’s smoke or blood” kind of way. After lunch my office neighbor/work spouse/hero Catherine slipped through the narrow opening in the door carrying a bag and then closed the door behind her. She put a finger to her lips, smiled, and then took from a bag a new poinsetta, identical to the ones Wally had gifted us. Yep, just like a parent with the goldfish. (“No no, honey. He’s just very tired. That’s why he is sleeping at the top of the bowl. How would you like to go get some ice cream with Daddy? I’m sure your goldfish will be awake and swimming around when you get back.”) I love Catherine. Love her. She was the sustainability (aka “green”) manager for the City, but she still got me.
Right now there are exactly two plants in my house. One is a hearty tree-like plant that my friend Sharon gave me when I started my last job. Despite my best efforts to the contrary, that thing just continues to live. The other is a tiny cactus given to me by my co-worker Susie for my birthday this past October. I want to add an aloe plant to the collection.
I say all this because as many of you know, I write dozens and dozens of resolutions for all areas of my life, each given its own action plan and neatly placed in a catagory with other similar goals. This year’s list was started in October and has been completed for weeks, just waiting impatiently for January 1st.
But now I feel the need to remake the list to reflect my commitment to being present. I think the first step in trying to achieve presence in life is to simplify – doesn’t that seem intuitive? I’ll unveil more about my plan later, but for now, here’s resolution #1 on my new list.
RESOLUTION #1: Keep the plants alive.
Looking forward to sharing the other pieces of my rethought resolution plan with you.
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