Bloom Where You Are Planted or Planting Blooms: Metaphorical Horticulture for the Young Adult
May 14, 2014
An unexpected fire drill around noon on a Tuesday. I was searching for my somehow lost backpack in the library when the bell rang and I was shuffled out to the student parking lot.
The teachers screamed repeatedly, and in vain, “off the pavement!”
I hummed “Burnin’ Up” to myself and kicked the grass.
I was surrounded by people I didn’t really know but would like to. I listened to their conversations: AP exams, fights with their parents, Grey’s Anatomy episode re-caps.
The voices of my classmates faded, though, as I spotted a clover. Bright and beautiful and carefree, I brushed it with my foot and watched it bend underneath my Keds.
In 5 minutes, after the firemen would come and roll their eyes and mutter to themselves about the “good ol’ days” when “safety came second to adventure,” I would go back into the school and carry on with my classes. I would learn about Hiroshima and trig functions and Ovid’s use of rhetorical devices. But the clover would stay there, where it had always been, until it died, or until it was eaten by a lawnmower, or until a human mistakenly picked it in a furious search for a four-leafed one that would allegedly bring them “luck” but would really bring them a grass-stained pocket.
I spent all of that next history class imagining what it would be like to be a flower (I’m sorry Mr. Weisend, the cherry trees had just bloomed). “Is it so terrible,” I thought, “to be in one place all of your life if you are surrounded by all kinds of beauty, in nature and in humanity, in that one place?”
I don’t think so.
But I also am not sure enough to give you a definitive opinion.
I am always coveting these other places to exist–cabins in Switzerland, huts in Indonesia, mountain lakes in Canada–that I forget that my best friends live next door to me. I forget the hikes I took with my dad at Sugar Hollow where he would yell out tree names as we passed them, to which I would scream “THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME, DAD” and he would ignore me. I forget the Pen Park playdates I had with that horrible brat Courtney I used to hang out with in preschool and the time she locked me in a bathroom and I got in trouble for it because I wouldn’t “go potty” the whole 35 minutes I was in there. I forget the walks I used to take every morning and afternoon to my middle school and I forget the perfect nights of Fridays After Five that were followed by Dips & Sips and windy drives home.
I forget how nice it is to be a clover sometimes; to have lived in this same beautiful place for all of my life and to have been sort of forced to enjoy being planted in my front yard, socializing with all the other bugs and flowers and stems of grass that have surrounded me.
So as much as adventure is important, we can create our own adventures within the proximity of our homes. Home offers us the emotional and social adventures rather than the physical adventure of being placed in a Vietnamese jungle or a Tibetan monastery.
But I think that both of these types of adventure are equally important.
I also think I don’t really know.
But as long as we are here–even if for some of us that means just one last summer– we must enjoy the meanderings on the downtown mall and the drives down Earlysville road. Because in all of its glory, New York City doesn’t have a mountain range 30 minutes away to hike on sunny Saturdays, Dubai doesn’t have Bodo’s bagels, the Amazon rainforest doesn’t have the climate for growing your own tomatoes!
Right now, we are surrounded by these fantastic and secretly (and sometimes not secretly) strange people that we will eventually miss! Right now, we are an hour away from those weird folk festivals that are sometimes held at the mock-village at the bottom of Humpback rock. I guarantee you that Charlottesville is one of the few places in the world that hosts a cupcake shop that brags their “birth-inducing lemon cupcakes!”
To be a clover is really a wonderful thing. The clover is happy where it is. The clover, in its beautiful immobility, will learn to appreciate what the bird only admires in passing.
But whatever you decide you’re going to do–whether it makes you a bird, a clover, a Republican, a member of the Communist party–love the soil you’ve been planted in. Immerse yourself in where you are today, and realize that all these fantastic and hidden intricacies exist within this place. Once you have become determined to love this place as much as time allows, to understand this place as you have never tried before, to discover it for the first time by looking through the blades of grass instead of up at the sky, you will no longer be bored with the monotony of things, but excited with the endless levels of adventure that begin to make themselves apparent in your small and stagnant place in the yard.