Right now, I’m trying to save a Life.
No I’m not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV.
I’d be the first to admit that I absolutely don’t know what I’m doing, I’m inexperienced, incompetent, and I might very well cause the loss of the Life I want to save.
However, I don’t think I’m being remiss and whatever happens I won’t ever be charged in court.
You see, Gloxinia isn’t a human being. It’s a plant.
Most people would just toss it out, buy a new one. So why the effort?
I know absolutely nothing about plants. The only plant I’ve owned is the money plant, and that’s a plant you’d almost have to actively be trying to kill before it dies on you. Actually come to think of it, my money plants died.
But this Gloxinia was a totally unexpected gift given to me by someone very dear. That significance and why it was given made it very precious. And because of that association I have when I look at this plant, I’ve done my very best to nurture it. As much as caring for it cultivates my reverence for Nature, it also symbolizes the importance I place on the relationship I have with the person who gave it to me.
Trying to keep to strict parameters of light, sun exposure, watering frequency and a lot of little details of care has been tough. As I’ve watched it grow, flower, thrive, decline, and now start to die, I’m thinking of that relationship as much as the fact that this is a Life under my care.
Sentimentality gets a bad rep. Certainly, there are advantages of hiding it if you don’t want to appear weak, soft, or nice. However being sentimental to me means placing great value on memories, friendship, and feelings and then having passion and emotions to go with that. It lets you do powerful things, it makes you hang on when you might have given up, and it gives you something bigger than yourself to fixate on.
I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
The other reason I place great value on Life that comes under my care is something that happened 30 years ago.
When we were kids we decided one day to keep tropical fish. We saved our pocket money, went out to buy them and put them in a jar. That was it. No proper tank, no proper feeding plan, no filtration system, no water treatment. There was also poking our little fingers into the water, trying to grab the fish, and occasionally knocking on the jar to get a reaction.
Needless to say, they all died.
I’ve learnt a lot since then. The power you have over small living things is a great one because often, they can’t fight back. When you are responsible for a living thing, from what and when it eats or drinks to whether it is safe from the elements, your power is absolute. With great power comes great responsibility and without the reverence for Life to go with it it’s a tragedy waiting to happen.
The guilt of what happened to those fish taught me these lessons.
It also drove me to try to atone for it.
Now, whenever I think about keeping pet or plant, even temporarily for a friend, I do lots of research and reading so I’ll never again be ill-prepared. It’s not only increased my general knowledge in this area, but more importantly helped me develop a respect for Nature and become more compassionate.
These few days, I’ve visited forums, spoken to an experienced master gardener and read up on everything from propagation methods to fertilizers and hormones to proper mix of soil types. I’m currently trying leaf cuttings, and if that fails, I’ll try to rescue the tubers.
We’ll know in a couple weeks if I succeed in saving Gloxinia. But whether I do or not, I’ll know I did try everything. Sometimes that’s all you can do.
But there will be no guilt. And the lessons learnt on this journey, and challenges I’ll fight along the way, will hopefully make me a better person.