Discouraged Orchids-Encouraged Orchids

“The sponsor of the story was a white-haired woman in full evening dress, obviously a relic of the previous evening, for a tiara still clung to her head and a discouraged orchid expired from her shoulder.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night.

Having posted recently on the concept of Orchid Children (see: http://tiny.cc/CdEXv), this passage caught my attention as an apt metaphor for our current culture—the orchid of compassion withering on the shoulder of materialism; we so often think of ourselves as modern, forgetting that every epoch that precedes us also thought of itself as rather au courant.  The debauched sophistication of the last century must have seemed a big wide target for the likes of Fitzgerald, and yet despite his gifts he also suffered miserably, particularly in Hollywood—a beast that cannot be mastered with mere intellect or sensitivity.  He suffered, beyond drink, because he could not really grasp the demands of the medium of film—he over-wrote, over-explained and over-thought… excellent parenting “don’ts.”

Whether it is our children who are the orchids, or even ourselves, we might reverse trends toward expiring via deliberately inspiring our kids and ourselves—both literally inspiring by breathing deeply (keep breathing in love, breathing out fear and desire), and also by consciously cultivating spirit.  For this, it pays to pay close attention to just about everything—paying close and loving attention, seeing to the heart of things, is the essence of love, which is the essence of cultivation.

Synchronicities always intrigue me, and I encourage us all to pay attention to those seemingly random coincidences that offer insight, guidance and even encouragement if we’re willing to open our psyches to the possibility that things may not always be as they seem.  Our world sometimes seems to boom with hyped-up bombast, but orchids  (within and without) need calm, quiet, comfort and recognition of their essence and not just their prettiness.  Like the lotus that grows with its roots in the mud, the orchid is not a princess on a designer gown’s cold shoulder… at least not for long.

Our children need to be carefully tended; children will not be harmed by gentleness, or by sincere interest.  We can talk about shaping children, molding them and the like, but if we’re honest we might admit that we know little about the world they will come to inhabit, and by the looks of our world we should not be listened to as far as what to do.  We can learn a lot from plants, from insects and animals, and even from children.  Children are like wild orchids in that they are not for show (narcissistic prizes adorning our décolletage), they are for grow… and maybe for inspiration and encouragement.

I blog trying to intuit my readers’ spirit, longing, anguish and deep desire to get it right with our children and to somehow become free while still embodied in this life.  As a psychologist, the holidays are my busy season (although my wife observes that every season is my busy season, and she too is correct).  For everyone who calls or emails with a particular crisis, I trust there are many others who struggle stoically with sub-clinical levels of angst, or quietly with heavy matters.  Even though it may not seem obvious to us, I do sense a gathering of spirit and community—not necessarily in this particular blog, but in a quiet blossoming of a number of parenting and literary sorts of blogs that are going for something other than the screaming hype of our already over-hyped world, voices that are unique and generous of spirit, and which care about our kids and about a lot more than that  (for more on this see: http://dailyplateofcrazy.com/ and http://mothereseblog.blogspot.com/).

So, while I hope to continue exploring ways that we can be our best Selves as parents, in these particular Yuletide weeks, sometimes simply not imploding, fighting or storming out and rejecting those we love may be considered best Self parenting.  For this reason my main message of the moment is that of encouragement:  tend that orchid in the mirror, or in the pond, and trust that it is indeed your authentic and best Self opening up—not a narcissus, hardy but unconscious, but a rare-enough and unique orchid rooted in the earth of caring and compassion that, upon realizing itself, is free to tend the other orchids and reap great pleasure in this.

We say that orchids need greenhouses, but this is not entirely correct.  They actually need wild jungles and impenetrable rainforests, just as we humans do if we intend to go in inspiring oxygen and not just burning coal fumes and car exhaust.  As parents the body may be exhausted, but the spirit… never.  Hang in, breathe, and pay close and loving attention.

Namaste, Bruce

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One Response to “Discouraged Orchids-Encouraged Orchids”

  1. Cathy Says:

    You know, I never read you that I don’t feel you are talking to me personally. And I needed to hear this tonight. Thanks!

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