The Prose of Everyday Life

How my houseplants taught me that effort is not vital for success

I love houseplants. In my imagination, my ideal home is full of various sorts, among which I do yoga or meditate and feel connected with nature. Collecting houseplants is a reasonably affordable hobby. Still, my current home is deprived of the various shades of green because the plants I invite in my house sooner or later die. 

Sometimes I forget to water them, and I pay little attention to them, so such an outcome is not surprising. But sometimes, I really try and do whatever I think is necessary for their balanced growth. I water the plants regularly. I remove dead leaves and polish the healthy ones. I repot the plants into bigger containers so their roots have room to spread. I even move them around the house, hoping that they’ll grow fond of particular places. Nevertheless, after some time, they still die. It’s like my plants and I are just not meant to be. 

There were times when I’d buy them over and over, hoping that at some point I’ll figure it out. Especially succulents or cactuses. I mean, they are easy to maintain, right? I had Aloe Vera on the bookshelf in my living room, and it grew so lovely for several weeks. I was sure this one would survive my caring skills, but one day without any warning, the plant began to whiter. Later I realised I overdid it. Succulent plants need little water. 

Throughout life, they teach us that the effort we put into something is the key to succeeding. We have to try and try, work hard and never give up if we want our dreams and desires to come true.

Generally speaking, that is true. Still, despite all of our hard work, sometimes we fail and end up disappointed. Usually, when this happens, we blame higher forces or say things like: It wasn’t meant to be, it’s destiny at work, the universe, God… 

Well, not quite. 

A certain subtlety is needed in everything we do. It usually ends up being crucial for the desirable final outcome of our efforts. 

It’s not enough just to focus on whatever it is that we want and work hard to get it. If we don’t have enough knowledge to know when, where and how much of an effort is precisely necessary, chances are we’ll end up frustrated and on the verge of giving up. Our efforts are often comprehensive instead of particular. We waste a good portion of our energy focused on doing that we overlook many details that could save us from so much trouble in future. By spending our resources more wisely, beginning with careful observing and looking for clues, we would eventually find ourselves walking in the most fruitful and productive direction. 

We could try hard to find a new job without much success, not realising that maybe something in our resume is off-putting.

We could try hard to be excellent parents, not realising that our children need a hug, a kiss, and our undivided attention instead of numerous activities.

We could buy a plant and kill it with improper care, not realising that our knowledge about how to keep it alive is flawed and weak. 

As a result of the busy modern life we live in, we can have many broken relationships that stay the same no matter how hard we try to fix them. Among the most important ones would be the relationship we have with ourselves. We’ll often forget to practice self-care because we believe we have to be out there. Running around, overloading ourselves with various achievements, activities, travels and events, ignoring our soul that needs a break. When we reach our limit, we are surprised with the side effects: anxiety, depression, and all sorts of mental disorders as well as the physical ones. Why are they there if we were doing our best? Why are we still unable to label our lives as successful despite all the hard work and effort we had put into them? 

Simply said, we don’t receive proper care, and we slowly begin to wither. 

Recently, while decorating my room, I decided to try my luck with the plants again, this time with less effort and more, well, I might as well call it active listening. I had an empty space next to the bookshelf, a space perfectly suited for a leafy friend. I decided to go with Peace Lily, a beautiful plant that purifies the air and is resilient and low maintenance. Still, I knew those characteristics meant nothing. Low maintenance is still maintenance. The one I failed to provide so many times before. If I wanted to keep my roommate alive, I needed to be more tuned with it. I needed to listen, to observe. To give it my time and attention the way it really needs, not the way I thought it needs. It’s been several months since I bought my plant. I must say it grows beautifully. Soon, I’ll repot it to make space for its continuous growth.

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