a rose by any other name …
Do you ever not know how to feel about something? Or, worse yet, feel strongly about something but you’re not sure why and then you’re walking around not knowing if it’s misplaced and you should really be feeling something for something completely different?
There is an entire school of thought built up around noticing the “little things”. Whether it be in business or personal relationships you hear that expression a lot and yet whenever I take the time to notice the “little things” I end up wasting a lot of time processing whether these things are truly “little” or not.
Ok, ok, I’ll get to the point. I’m beating around the bush for two reasons. First, I’m not sure what the point is and second it has to do with a bush.
You see, I’m a bad landscaper. When I go to buy a flower or shrub I just buy what I think looks nice and I routinely ignore warnings about how much sun the plant does or does not need and how big it will get. I buy things so my yard will look nice 10 minutes after I’m done planting everything. This is how it came to pass that I bought a rose bush and planted it between 2 nice-looking shrubs that, 5 years later, grew from leafy little balls the size of a cat to enormous entities that can be seen clearly from space. Thus began the saga of my rose bush.
For the first couple years it tried its best to produce flowers in the cramped and getting crampeder bit of soil it called home. It flexed its thorny muscle but it was no match for the twin shrubasourasus I had sandwiched it between. Gradually as the years passed it stopped trying to flower and instead devoted all its energy to trying to grow fast enough to grab a little sunshine now and then.
A couple years ago I guess I just forgot all about it.
Then I noticed this year that the rose bush I had bought so many years ago was nothing more than a single stem that reached up over 8 feet high now. It had outgrown the shrubs and now had leaves sitting atop them both soaking up the rays.
One long, thick, thorny middle finger rising up. I looked at this rose bush/stem and was just filled with this feeling that it was somehow heroic beyond all measure. It had, however, completely given up on actually being a bush and producing roses. I distinctly remember the first couple years it had 10 or 11 stems and 4 or 5 nice roses. It got all rose-bush-like in appearance and probably had no sense of the impending danger from its flourishing neighbors.
Now it was a single stalk 8 fucking feet high.
The question is why. Why continue to fight for existence if you end up having to leave behind all the things that make you what you are? A rose bush that doesn’t produce roses. Isn’t the battle already lost at some point?
Of course I feel guilty, the whole thing being my fault. If only I had read how big the other shrubs were going to get I could have planted the rose bush somewhere else. Somewhere where it could be a big beautiful rose bush with dozens of flowers. My entire garden is diminished because there isn’t the smell of roses wafting through the air. I robbed this rose bush of the chance to be the best rose bush it could be. I turned it into the 8 foot freak it now was.
Digging it up now and moving it is out of the question. Where the hell and I going to put an 8 foot branch covered in thorns? Don’t kid yourself, these thorns mean business. With nothing better to invest its energy in, it made its thorns extra large and extra pointy. Perhaps in the hopes of stabbing the encroaching shrubs. Or maybe those thorns are meant for the dumb bastard who planted it so badly.
So I’m left with this feeling that my rose bush is heroic, fighting this valiant fight that nobody even notices. And yet, this feeling has some vague bitter aftertaste. There are metaphors lining up in my head to get in on this action, each one pitching a different moral. Some urging me to cut down the shrubs and give the rose a fighting chance to reclaim some semblance of a normal rose lifestyle. Others rejecting that out of hand and saying the shrubs are only being shrubs and that the merciful thing is to take the snips and with one clean snip end this mockery of a rose bush once and for all.
Maybe I see too much of myself in this rose bush.