Grow, Plant, Grow! / by Michelle Cowan

A few weeks ago, some lovely friends gave me a narcissus bulb. I smiled and accepted my parting gift, feeling a combination of uncertainty, burden, and dread. Did I want to attempt to grow this plant? Never before had I tried to grow a living thing within my own home. I’d cared for cut flowers and watered roommates’ and employers’ ferns and ivy, but I had never in my adult life planted a flower and seen if it would grow. For whatever reason, I always had a sneaking suspicion that plants and Michelle did not make for a pleasant combination. “Surely nothing in my care could grow and flourish!” I thought.

Well, I kept the bulb in its paper sack on my kitchen counter for a while, eventually taking the little strip of growing instructions out and reading them. Hmmm, I’d need a pot, some rocks/pebbles, and some water. No pot, no pebbles, but water I had… Considering that this job would not require anything as messy as soil, I began opening up to the idea of nurturing this thing to life.

Then, one night at the store, I opted to go by the gardening section, where I picked out a smart red pot. For a few days, this sat beside the bulb on the kitchen counter. Eventually, the bulb made it into the pot along with some water. (I started worrying that the bulb would die if I didn’t do SOMETHING with it.) And I stared at it, wondering if I really wanted to do this thing.

That weekend, I ventured into a flower shop where I bought, yes with money, a bag of rocks. To my surprise, at this point, regular rocks I could find just wouldn’t do. I wanted smooth, round, multi-colored stone for my dear narcissus bulb. I had grown attached to the idea of this plant and the possibility that it could be something other than the brown, onion-like creature languishing on my countertop. Perhaps it wouldn’t rot from too much water and lack of early care if it liked its surroundings.

That very day, I arranged the rocks, bulb, and water in the pot as instructed, feeling doubtful that the bulb would still be in the mood to take root and grow after having been put off for so long. And it seemed highly unlikely that anything could grow with nothing more than a small pot and some pebbles. I mean, I don’t know many things that grow in rocks except for moss and other, less appealing creepy crawlies.

Despite my misgivings, a few days later, I walked past the bulb, and it was opening. A funny, little sprout poked through the top of the shell. I was shocked. Completely shocked. I don’t know how long I examined that first hint of life or how many other times I revisited the plant that day, but I was obsessed with the fact that something could grow with the relatively minimal effort I put into it.

As the days have passed, I confess that it is the delight of my day to pass by that plant in the morning and evening. Every time I see it, I marvel at how tall and elegant it is becoming. It seems to shoot up another two inches or sprout another bunch of leaves every twelve hours. I am mesmerized.

I ask myself, “How am I growing this?” And suddenly, a surprising answer returns. I’m not growing anything. I helped. I did a couple of things that were within my power to do; I bought a pot and some rocks and put it all together. Sure, I talk to the plant and change its water, but I’m not growing it. Growing is just what it does.

And so it is with me. Growing and maturing is just what I do. I go through life; I do things and don’t do things. I make choices and may even do a few self-help-type activities along the way. But I’m not making myself grow. I’m not making myself age or acquire knowledge. It’s just what I do.

That’s a load off. I can relax and enjoy life a little more, knowing that somehow, I am like my gorgeous narcissus plant. I am taller and more vibrant than anyone could imagine. The universe looks at me and marvels at my progress and the beauty that I am. And the universe understands that that’s just what I do, like every other person, equally engaging, equally surprising, ever-evolving, and growing into creations nothing could have imagined before now.

It also comforts me to know that all the things I think I need to work so hard to preserve can be left alone for a time. They will grow or decrease and change on their own. I can rest, knowing that I can contribute and take credit for giving of myself to things, but it’s a stretch to say that I alone made something evolve into whatever it has become.

Bottom line, we are all powerful beings, so powerful that by merely existing, we create and are miracles. Take the effort to put some rocks and water together, and you might experience more than you could ever have dreamed.