January 8, 2006

"The Succulent"

Day in, day out, I see you by the window with your branches outstretched.

You look untouchable with your armor of thorns and spines. Tough. Invulnerable. Quietly sitting by the window basking in the warmth of the sun, as if taking pleasure in your solitude.

Then it started. Leaves yellowing. Branches drying up. Perhaps you needed attention. Yet it was the first time I really paid attention to and became aware of you. I removed the dried leaves when I see you, hoping it would help you.

When you were shriveling up, others thought you were an eyesore. "Your plant’s dead. Why do you bother?"

You are not mine. I do not own you. I do not know who owns you. Why do I bother? But it doesn't matter. I tend to you when I can.

I see life in you when others see death.

You were a delicate creature who wore an armor of thorns — a brave front belying a soft inner space. You deceived others by how you looked. They thought you were okay, that you were fine and thriving on your own, thriving on being left alone. Beneath the prickly exterior, you needed attention and care.

Nobody dared to touch you. Most people marveled at you from a distance, in awe of your beauty yet afraid of the pain they imagine you can inflict on them.

And then it happened. Your leaves were becoming a lush shade of green again. Little bunches of flowerettes with a tinge of pink and red sprang forth from your branches. Now you are flourishing right before my eyes. I have seen you grow. Nurtured you.

I tended you not because I knew you'd live. I did it just because. No reason, no excuse, no explanation. Even I don't understand why I had the urge to watch you. If anybody would ask me what type of succulent you are, I wouldn't know the answer to save my life. I do not have to know.

As long as something lives, you can't give up on it. Even if other people tell you otherwise. Even if other people tell you to. Even if other people tell you it's hopeless.

Seeing you blooming and thriving puts a smile in my face.

Hope lives.

NOTE: I wrote this on March 2, 2004. It's true.