Lilies of the valley
I already learned better than trying to bring bunches of lilies of the valley from my garden to put in a vase on my desk at home. They look so gentle and innocently precious, but they are anything of this sort once taken home from the garden. Their fragrance overwhelms everything indoors. It is a beautiful, clear and pure smell, but it takes over every other molecule of air and makes it its own. Firstly experienced, this fragrance is sensual and invigorating. But after 20 minutes it becomes too much. Almost like this flower wants to punish you for taking it from its home soil for a brief life in water in a glass vase as no more than a temporary ornament. And it fights back with too much of a pleasant smell that causes a slowly creeping headache. So, I leave them in a spot in my garden where they somehow self-seeded themselves. That lesson is clear and learned already.
I saw a woman standing outside a store downtown this week. An elderly woman, nicely dressed but in clothes that showed their age. There was a glass jar in front of her, with a single bunch of lilies of the valley in it. She was standing there to sell it to any passerby. A single bunch. Maybe she had more of the flowers and sold them already. God, I hope this was the case because the sight of an elderly woman trying to sell a single flower outside the store downtown with passersby rushing by was depressing and pathetic. I thought about actually going to buy it from her, but some deep sadness that came over me made me keep on walking. I didn’t think I could make eye contact with her and say a couple of words. Pathetic, on every single count — the situation and my behavior. That sight, that thought, stayed with me for a while. I could feel a slow spiral of resigned depression already staring its dance in my head. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that all that was just a creation of my wrongly perceived reality. There was nothing sad or pathetic about it. She was doing something. She went and found those flowers somewhere in the fields or a forest. She took them back to the city, and she made an effort to sell them. She was doing something. Here my lesson is learned as well — do not judge others or the situation by my point of view and my understanding only. There is usually a lot more to it than I can see at the glance.