Wednesday, August 14, 2013

R.I.P. Sunflower

Few things make me shake my head in disgust like the need of someone to destroy something beautiful.  Alas, they have.  My partner and I (mostly him though) have been maintaining a tree bed outside our building for the last couple years, having had varying degrees of success with growing, planting, bulbs, color, balance, and fertilization.  It's been a journey, an experiment in gardening.  There have even been sleepless nights researching organic materials, soil pH, minerals, and disastrous things to watch out for and from which to protect your little garden.  We seemed to be doing it all right, even drawing neighbors out of their shells who would normally keep their heads down and just get to where they're going to stop and say, "Thank you for doing this.  It's so beautiful".  Making friends through the beauty of nature.  The power of something bigger than us to bring us all together to celebrate.

But what we never planned for was someone so full of rage and pain that they would feel so compelled to rip our beautiful sunflower off its 7 foot tall stalk and tear it to shreds.

I rode my bike to work and had some time to reflect on my reaction to this unfortunate event.  What I focused on was unusual, especially for me, who's normal inclination would be to seek out the person who did this and teach them a lesson.  Among other things.  I remembered being told by one neighbor, "You know it's just a matter of time before someone rips that off, don't you?  It's a zen garden, you have to let go".  Turns out he was right.  Very right.  The act of letting that magnificent sunflower go and remembering its short but gorgeous life was a real gift.  It allowed me to be at peace with the things this world can be, not the things that it is not.

I stopped by that sunflower last night, like all nights, before I went inside for the evening.  One, I never thought that would be the last time I would see it.  Two, I'm eternally grateful I stopped and smelled the intense, rich honey-like smell it was producing.  It finally became heavy enough to bow and allow me close contact.  I breathed so deeply I swear it took root in my heart.

I'm also eternally grateful I took photos and saved them at key points in this sunflower's cycle:

Ironically, neither my partner nor I realized sunflowers form a heart in the middle as they are nearing the final blooms, and they produce hundreds of tiny hearts while the stamens are unfolding.  Last night my best friend said to me, "Mother Nature is showing her appreciation".  See, to me, the sunflower is merely a physical object symbolizing something larger.  It's a power greater than me.  Call it God, The Universe, Mother Nature.  But my serenity lies in knowing that I am a person who is 100% capable of seeking and surrounding myself with beauty, and not someone who is in so much pain that I seek to destroy it.

These are the things I will remember.

So I say not to the person who ripped this flower to shreds, but to the sunflower:

Just know you were loved while you were on that big beautiful 7 foot tall stalk, and you are loved now.  Wherever your soft little petals and delicious golden pollen are, you will continue to live in our hearts.  The bees will find you, sit tight.


  1. Wow! You made a speedy and healthy recovery. Would that all sunflowers fostered such insight. Thanks for sharing the physical and spiritual beauty of this shortened life.

  2. I'm sorry for your loss. :( Thank you for sharing the beauty of your sunflower and the lessons it taught you. Hugs!