Growing up, one of my favorite movies was "Dennis, the Menace" If you've never seen it, first of all, shame on you. Secondly, find it and watch it!
Its a story about a mischevious child and his adventures, that always somehow get him in troublesome situations. The movie follows the period of time Dennis spends with his grumpy old neighbor Mr. (and Mrs.) Wilson. During this time, Dennis' mischief escalates and he ends up screwing up pretty bad at a garden party that Mr. Wilson is hosting on the evening that his rare, indigenous bloom opens up in the light of the moon. This plant is so special, and so rare that it blooms only once in a lifetime, and only for a few seconds, which Mr. Wilson misses as a result of Dennis' curiosity over the garage door button.
Of all the great parts of this movie, even as a kid I remember thinking, that plant is the dumbest. I asked myself why someone would spend years and years to plant a seed, painstakingly cultivate it, and nurture it if it were only to bloom for a few seconds.
I have since realized how much I've learned about relationships from that plant, as silly as it seems. Here's three things:
1. Cultivation matters
Plants are a great representation of relationships. Not only do you need to have the proper conditions (climate, soil, space, etc.) in order for a plant to grow, but you also need to maintain those conditions and work the ground around the plant as is grows to ensure the proper growth. If you stop cultivating, the plant's chances of continuing to grow are limited.
In a relationship this is true as well. It helps if you work to create the right conditions in your own life, understanding who you are and the things that help you grow is super important. Maintaining personal growth and making time to build those areas has been really helpful for Hannah and me. If you stop cultivating the relationship, it will stop growing.
2. Beauty is fleeting
If you're fortunate enough to get everything right when you plant a seed, the result is amazing. The bloom, or fruit is beautiful. It's ok to enjoy it, because it doesn't last forever. Sometimes you cultivate for a long time and the result doesn't last long at all.
The cool thing about relationships is that you don't always have to get all the conditions in order before you see the beauty. In the messiness of relating to others, there is beauty. You will continue to find this beauty if you keep cultivating, keep learning, keep growing, and keep promising to love. Too much emphasis has been placed on the "one and done" philosophy. Good relationships are like plants in that there is a cycle of beauty and fruit and cultivation. Beauty flees at times, but if you keep working at it you'll see it again.
3. Joy is powerful
Im thinking about the short moments of beauty we see in plants and how much of an emotional connection we can establish in those moments. There is a wow factor at first, then you just keep looking back at the plants when they're beautiful, perhaps taking time to smell, cut off a few and take them home to enjoy them, and so on.
There is power in beauty, even when it's not present. The power is in the ability of the human mind to retain positive emotion. I believe that positive emotion trumps negative every time, and moments of love and joy make the process of working hard to cultivate good relationships worth productive struggle.
Grow old together. Know that it's not always fruit and blooms. Cultivate constantly. And never stop planting seeds.