I love orchids, especially the ones that cost less than $10.
I love the flowers, especially the ones in unusual colors and patterns. I love how long the flowers last. I love how little care they need.
But I do not have a green thumb. I usually toss them or give them away when the flowers are gone, and I forget to water them for months. Or worse, when I leave them outside in the spring and they actually drown from too much rain.
I heard they can rebloom, but who wants to wait a year for that?!
Eventually, though, I simply began to keep them in the window, adding new ones to the mix every six months or so. And yes, they will rebloom, given time and a little bit of care. In fact, they bloom even more vigorously the second time! I don’t know why. I don’t feed them, I forget to water them, and they still reboot.
Until one year, I did leave one neglected and unloved, in the mudroom, for a looooong time. I finally saw it walking by our house one day. (I’d set it behind the window blinds, and it was visible from the street.)
Chagrined, I took it out of the window and brought it into the kitchen. It was completely dried up. Even the root-looking things that actually take moisture from the air (which is why they don’t need a lot of water) were shriveled and dry.
I almost threw it into the compost bin, but stopped. I thought, “What the heck, I’ll give this little one a chance.”
Here it is:
And here it is, one week and two brief waterings later:
Why am I writing about orchids? Especially a hothouse orchid?? The British site I just linked to defines this term with humor:
Hothouse Flower: A flower that isn’t hardy enough to grow under natural conditions. It has to be pampered and grown in a greenhouse or hothouse. : On “Frazier,” (a U.S. television show), the main character was complaining about various things that bothered him. His father said, “Aren’t you the little hothouse orchid.”
And yet, in my humble experience, orchids are anything but pampered.
In fact, they are extremely hardy, as my abysmal care of them proves.
You know what else is a “hothouse flower”?
Us. You. Me. People. Humanity.
We are all tender and vulnerable when we are born. We rely on those around us to take good care of us. Typically, the care extends for decades, though on a lower-maintenance level as we grow from infants to young adults. Some of us get that love and care. Some don’t.
The world, and our fellow humans, can be vicious, and cruel. There are people who go out of their way to hurt us, and plenty more who don’t intend to be mean, but are. If we’re lucky, it’s our heart and soul that get bruised and broken. If not, we may not even survive….
Every day we hear or read a hero story. (My use of “hero” includes all genders.)
We learn about someone who rose above the chaos, the destruction, and survived, even thrived. We hear about people who persisted, despite the insults, setbacks, obstacles, and disrespect. We hear about people who have suffered great pain, physical, mental, spiritual–and turned into a force for good in the world. We hear about people who even sacrifice themselves for others, willing to lose their lives so that others will live, the ultimate sacrifice.
Wherever we go, we find people who are doing it right. They work tirelessly for justice, for restoration, for those who cannot fight for themselves. They get discouraged, they get hurt, and yet they keep on going.
Sometimes, it’s wisdom, information, encouragement, shared just when we need to hear it. Sometimes it’s a simple act of kindness, and compassion that keeps us going.
Sometimes these people don’t even know the miracles they’ve brought to our lives.
These people are all our life heroes.
And by their actions, they encourage us to do the same, too. To pass it on, play or pay it forward. Somewhere in the world (or even next door) there is someone who needs your story, your art, your words, your kindness, maybe even a few bucks so they can eat. All of it is worthwhile. All of it, even the tiniest little bit, makes the world a better place.
So the next time someone brings something painful and hurtful into your life, and, when you push back, they sneer something about how senstive you are, how it was just a joke, sometimes when they are hurting themselves and choose to pass that on, remember this:
We may be hothouse flowers.
But we are also going to bloom again. And when we do, we will be even more beautiful, in our hearts and our souls.