Often when I look at roses I feel an affinity with them. It could be one of those weird Enid Blyton-esque mind melds I sometimes get where I feel I may at some stage in the distant past have been a fairy living among the roses or it might just be the realisation that a rose is in many ways just like life.
I know you, my friend, I often say when I see a rose. I know the crap you are going through.
You may not know this but roses go through a lot of crap.
There they are, dressed up to the nines, striking in their finery, basking in the admiring glances of those who pass by their gardens and suddenly a dog comes along and starts to dig them up or pees on them. Or a child comes along and picks them, pulling the petals off one by one. Or some lunatic do-gooder sprays home made bug mix on them that turns their vermilion petals brown.
And then there is the wind and the rain. Not to mention the vagaries of sunlight. And birds and bees and children with errant footballs. And gardeners who really know nothing about gardening.
If roses had a shoulder they would always be looking over it. If they had therapists they would always be in the waiting room, a list of the trials of life in the garden nestled amongst their petals, ready to vent.
When I see a rosebud trembling, ready to open, I think how safe it is to be enclosed like that. How nice it is. And how daunting it is when that fragile little bud opens for the first time and embraces the light.
One petal unfurls and then another.
Just like us.
We dream of things. We hope for things. We strive for things.
Pop pop pop. Our petals unfold and face the day. We are nervous and unsure but there we are, ready for whatever might come along.
And the petals of the rose keep unfurling.
And our schemes and plans and determination to take the world by storm keep thrusting themselves forward.
And the unfurling and the unfolding continues until we are fully formed.
A rose. A person.
A person. A rose.
Standing there in all our glory for the world to see.
And there is a pause, a breath blown sideways where nothing conspires against us.
And the roses and the people each think – This is it. This is the moment.
But as we all know those moments – of revelation, of epiphany, of feeling we’ve made it, of shaking hands with our true selves – are fleeting, as hard to hold on to as a rose in full bloom.
Along comes a wind, more blustery than expected. Maybe a bit of a rain, maybe an overexuberant dog, pouncing.
The elements collude and all of a sudden the petals of the rose are gone, colouring the ground, fairy cloaks abandoned in a rush.
And the rose is naked, shorn, unadorned. At odds with the garden, at odds with itself.
And the rose thinks : Gee, I go through a lot of crap for that brief moment of beauty.
But it goes on, waiting for more buds to form before it starts again because those beautiful moments like crystals in sunlight, like golden-edged smiles are worth it.
Roses can’t resist them.
Neither can we.
So when I see a rose I tip my imaginary hat because I know what roses go through.
Kahlil Gibran said:
The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose.
And I think if we see both the rose and its thorns we see life. As it is.
Celebrating it all.
Steadfast, constant, keeping our faces turned towards the sun.