I saw the picture posted above several years ago on Tumblr. I don’t think there was a caption underneath it nor do I think it was a part of some larger context. It was just a sign.
But for some reason, it spoke to me to the extent that I was convinced that the original blogger had posted the picture for the same reason I liked it, reblogged it, and saved it to my phone. Now I realise that it really might’ve just been a cool pic to take.
For me, the sign made me think of relationships and how we sometimes try to uproot people from their lives in order to complete our own.
Actually, there’s a quote by Osho that fits this perfectly:
“If you love a flower, don’t pick it up.
Because if you pick it up it dies and it ceases to be what you love.
So if you love a flower, let it be.
Love is not about possession.
Love is about appreciation.”
This is probably why the picture spoke to me in the way that it did. Osho’s words resonated with me that I reinterpreted the sign that was just a gardener’s cute warning as a parable.
Nevertheless, I love what Osho said, even if it meant that I had to admit to myself that I was guilty of trying to possess people. What’s right is right.
When we pick a flower, it isn’t because we love the flower. It’s because we want beauty in our lives. We are using the flower for our benefit. The flower isn’t going to survive in a vase of water for long. And again, we only put it in the water because we want the flower to last as long as possible, until we replace it with a new one.
I can already imagine a bunch of people thinking, “Just put the flower in soil, take it inside and have it as a potted plant.” It’ll last longer, yes, but it will still die. How do I know this? I’ve done it. My plant was dying because it isn’t one that can survive indoors and I put it outside where it thrived.
So while I was disappointed that the plant couldn’t beautify my room, it was living its best life outside.
Actually, this now reminds me of another excellent quote, this time by Rabbi Abraham Twerski as he recounts a story:
“Young man. Why are you eating that fish? The young man says, ‘Because I love fish.’ Oh, you love the fish. That’s why you took it out of the water and killed it and boiled it. Don’t tell me you love the fish. You love yourself, and because the fish tastes good to you; therefore, you took it out of the water and killed it and boiled it.
“So much of what is love is fish love. Young couple falls in love. Young man and young woman fall in love. What does that mean? Each one is looking out for their own needs. It’s not love for the other. The other person becomes a vehicle for my gratification.”
He goes on to quote another Rabbi who stated, “People make a serious mistake in thinking that you give to those whom you love, and the real answer is you love those to whom you give.”
What these guys are saying is that there is a certain spontaneity in love. You want to give to this other person. You want to preserve them as they are. What you get out of it, is the preservation of this other person, in the same way the flower or fish is preserved. They are nourished and they continue to be as they are.
Here’s the deal. Chances are, you are going to pick a flower at some point in the future, or even a plant for food. Chances are, you are going to eat an animal at some point in the future. They aren’t saying that you should never do these things. They’re just saying that your admiration of the flower and the fish is more about you than it is the flower and the fish, and that’s okay.
You love yourself, so you are going to eat. You love yourself, so you are going to beautify your home. However, when you do this to another person, don’t be surprised if they wither and die. Moreover, when someone does this to you, don’t be surprised if you wither and die.
Moreover still, don’t say that you love these things, as this is a misconception. Let’s face it. If the flower didn’t beautify your home or your hair, it would be discarded. If you cooked the fish and it tasted bad, you’d spit it out. It was about your gratification all along. Again, that’s okay. Now you know better. Now you won’t tell people you love them when what you love is what they can do for you.
What does this mean for relationships? Essentially, there’s no need to possess anyone. People need to be in the environments where they can thrive. If two people can co-exist like a human and an African Violet or any other indoor plant, then that’s great. But if two people are incompatible, then just accept that.
Sometimes you’ll be outside and you’ll see them soaking in the sun and the nutrients from the soil, and you think they’re awesome, but you can’t be together. You’re not about that life. You’re about the video streaming and indoor plumbing life. Sometimes the plant will see you in your habitat and think you’re awesome, but you cannot be together. That’s okay.
Everyone is looking for love but are unaware that they have often found it. People ruin it by trying to possess each other because they have an agenda for the other person. If you are unhappy with your life, another person cannot fix that. That’s your job.
There will be several people you will admire in life that you cannot be with. Some of them you will like because of what they are inherently, but you might not be able to help yourself in daydreaming what this person could do for you. It’s natural.
However, now you’re aware of the fact that you are focusing on your gratification instead of allowing this person to be what they are. This is how expectations come up and ruin everything. They are the proverbial weeds. Don’t fall for it.
If you’re naturally gravitating towards someone, they probably are towards you. As you water each other, you both will grow. You both will see the compatibility emerge. You both are outdoor plants, fishes in a pond, a human and an indoor plant or maybe even an underwater plant and a fish. The point is, it works.
But if there is an insurmountable incompatibility, you will be able to separate in peace because you never tried to possess them. (S)he isn’t yours. You were just tending to them.