Take in a house plant and you’re taking on a living, breathing creature.
But more than that, by bringing a plant into your home, in to your life, you are creating in it, a need for you. Had it been left where it was, battling for sunlight, under a thick forest canopy or clinging to a cliff face watching the sun rise and the birds chase it, it would never have known about you. It would never have known the depth of your heart and the promise of your love. But now it does and it’s taken root.
Water it and it will grow.
Ignore it and it will shrivel. It will pine for the lonesome hillside and watch the clouds drift past the window. It will long for your smile, your hands, your water. Without your attention it will shrivel and die from a broken heart. For you showed it life without competition, safety through knowledge of a home and peace through a promise of trust.
Surround it with selfishness, distractions and fear and it will fade with disappointment.
And yet it won’t give up without a fight. It will realize your absence and accept that you’ve forgotten that the sun no longer reaches the corner where you’ve placed it. It will strain and stretch and reach for the rays, hoping you will do what it can’t, but trying with all its might nonetheless.
It will shed leaves of itself to preserve its life force, cut back on its beauty to sip gently from its base. It will wait quietly and patiently as long as it can. And even when it sheds the last hopeful leaf, there will still be a current inside, buried deep and protected with toughness. A drop of water then will produce a spark. A splash of sunlight will encourage the unveiling.
Your house plant didn’t need you. Had you not taken it in, some other lover would be pruning its branches and wetting its roots. And had they also neglected it, there was always the peaceful stillness of a mountain view or the rugged adventure of a floodplain valley. It doesn’t need your love. It will live without it. And it will live better without your neglect. But with your attention, oh my.
Do not expect your house plant to be independent. Do not leave it alone indoors and without light or food and wonder why when you return it refuses to flower for you. Do not anger at its preservation of peace and its favor of stillness. It will not argue with you and it will not play your games. It will simply be.
The beauty of the house plant is yours now. The blossoms and vines entwined with your home. See its needs and provide them with love and gentleness, whilst remembering that you have no proof at all that it can not hear you, and it will smile on you. But turn your back and expect a dazzle when you return and you will be bitterly disappointed. It is not being fickle. Not withdrawing its beauty because of a bruised ego. It is simply not surviving. And whilst it is not surviving, it’s beauty will not survive either. Its beauty is yours. But it is your to keep and lose.
The house plant is as it is. Entirely itself and a product of its past.
It is entirely honest. No fear holds it back and no regrets force rash and wild decisions. It is now. It is what it is. In places it is sharp and will drop blood from your finger. In others it is smooth and will caress your fingers as you stroke its trunk.
And in others, still, it is a tangle of seeking and drinking and will dirty your fingers as they rake through the wet. And yet it will grow. With your commitment, it will bloom and change and flourish in to itself. With your attention and adaptation it will burst through the confines of the first shelf you had it on. It will rocket towards the sky with big dreams and outstretched arms. With your mind, it will grow. With your heart it will bloom.
So remember your houseplant. Remember that you showed it life in your home. You chose it and it chose you right back. Pay attention to it and remember its nature. Show it kindness and never take it for granted.
For a withered, disillusioned, broken hearted house plant would rather be out in the wind and rain under the heaviest of heavy clouds than feel the absence of the love you once promised it.
Love is a house plant. Water it.
Author: Andy Charrington
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photo: courtesy of the Rain Hitchcock