The Story of My Cactus
This article was written by yours truly, but originally published in the Westminster College Student Newspaper. The Holcad on Friday, November 6th, 2015. You can read more of the paper at Holcad.org.
I bought a tiny plant. Okay, my friend bought me a tiny plant and I named him Simioné. I got it sometime last year when the biology honor society at my school was selling small cacti and succulents that they assured me I could not kill. I killed it. Nobody told me you weren’t supposed to douse them in water.
Some point after I had watched his plump green form shrivel into a brown twig of existence; I decided to take my beloved Simioné home, wistfully thinking that he might be saved by someone who actually knows how to take care of things. If not, he could at least be properly disposed of in one of the “leaves, grass, plants, etc.” recycling bins.
I took Simioné home and gave him to my dad, dodging the disbelief of parents who couldn’t understand how I had killed the easiest living thing to take care of. Regardless, Simioné became my dad’s special project, and I went back to school.
Every so often, my dad would send me a photo of Simioné in recovery. I’m not sure how it was done, but he was starting to get his color back. Days turned to weeks turned to months and by summer, I had bought him a new container at the craft store. He was thriving.
Over fall break, I saw Simioné. He was at least five times his original size, blossoming in bright greens and practically overflowing the 99 cent plastic container I had purchased for him. My dad had propped him up with a couple of chopsticks and he was almost as tall as the turkey feather that also adorned his humble pink pot. I was blown away.
Here was this tiny plant that I had placed in my room with excitement over a year ago. Here was this tiny plant that I had sufficiently tortured with over watering placing him on the verge of an inevitable death. And here was this tiny plant that had risen above it all…that had grown strong and tall and looked, if I do say so myself, pretty rad.
I think right now, I’m Simioné. Now stay with me for a second because I also think that right now, we are all Simioné. I think a lot of us have hit that point in the semester where we just need a moment. For many of us, that was Fall Break. For many others who stayed on campus for athletics, went on whirlwind adventures, visited graduate school, took a road trip, caught up on homework, or worked eight plus hours every day, we’re still just looking for a moment to breathe. Or better yet, we’re still just looking for someone who knows that we don’t need water.
Think about it. I was Simioné worst nightmare. I can barely take care of myself, let alone another living thing. My dad, on the other hand, an avid gardener and fan of all things outdoors, knew exactly what he was doing. He put Simioné in the sun. He planted him in fresh soil. He only watered him when it was necessary. My dad was Simioné’s saving grace.
Maybe I’m just speaking for myself, but I think more than just a couple of us could use that kind of saving grace right now. Anatomically, we aren’t going to shrivel up into a dead plant like Simioné, but if inside we continue to let our stresses and pressures and worries build up, eventually, our souls going to end up something like my plant when I had custody.
But if we allow someone who knows us well to come in and fix what’s gone wrong, imagine how we could blossom. It’s easy to say that you have everything under control…that you’re completely fine when in reality you feel like you’re speeding toward a cliff with no brake pedal. So stop. (No pun intended). That’s not going to get you anywhere fast. Let someone in. Talk to your person, whoever that may be and open yourself up to being human. You have fears and struggles and problems you can’t even begin to uncover on your own. Guess what? So do they. So does everyone else on this campus.
Simioné would surely be dead if I hadn’t been able to acknowledge that I had no idea what I was doing and needed help. If you keep moving at a pace that leaves no room for conversation, you open yourself to the harsh realities of a life lived without relationships. People are the most important thing we have. Without a friend like the boy who bought the plant, I would have never owned Simioné. Without a father like my Dad, Simioné wouldn’t be alive to be owned.
Now I get it. Simioné’s just a plant. But you aren’t. You are the realest thing in this world. Allow yourself to be human. Allow yourself to fall. But most importantly, take care of yourself—and when you can’t, call in reinforcements. We’re all a little better when we’re working together.