I’ve always lived in my head a little too much. Drawn to ideas and ideals, I’m attracted to lofty philosophies and neglectful of attending to what’s right in front of me. So at the start of this year, I decided I would begin a daily practice of caring for a little plant that my wife had put in my office.
Now, bear in mind that my wife knows I can be neglectful. She must have known she was taking a risk by expecting me to water a plant each day, much less setting it outside on the guardrail outside my office so it could soak up the sunlight. But my wife loves the man I am trying to become as much as the man I actually am, so entrusting me with caring for the plant could have been part of her designs to help me become the better man. Daily practice is hard for me. It takes patience and attending to this moment. It means caring right now, and not when a better time suits me. And tend to it, I did. Watering it, giving it sunlight, and talking to it—I did it all with love and gentility.
When we give our full presence, concentration, and best-selves to what is right in front of us, we take better care of everything around us.
Yesterday, my wife came to my office and asked me why the plant was on the guardrail. Proudly, I told her, “Because I’m becoming a better, more caring person. I’m giving the plant daily sunlight.”
She smiled big, hardly containing herself, and said, “It’s a fake plant!”
Both of us burst out laughing, though my face was much redder than hers.
All Things Are Real
Years ago, I read Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore. A former monk, and Jungian psychotherapist, Moore suggests we care for inanimate things with the same love and attention we care for living creatures. When we give our full presence, concentration, and best-selves to what is right in front of us, we take better care of everything around us. All things, living and non-living, are made up of the same cosmos material of protons, neutrons, and electrons, after all. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that I had brought a new copy of the book just before setting out on my journey to become a better plant owner.
Whatever your beliefs or daily practices, it seems to me people should aim to leave our world and our planet a little better off than we found it. My commitment is to take better care of the things around me, both living and non-living.
All things are real—even the fake ones. And real or fake, all things are deserving of our care. So today, like yesterday, I put my beautiful fake plant back on the guardrail so that it could bask in the real sunlight.