As I write this I’ve just finished unwrapping, trimming, and arranging the three dozen red roses I received from my husband for Valentine’s Day. This set me to musing about love. As is my habit, I immediately went for the symbolism of flowers and recalled a comment my internet friend, William Horden, made in response to an early post. I had written that my goal in writing this blog is to raise psychological and spiritual consciousness and here’s what he said:
“For the ancients of Mexico, the height of their Lifeway was expressed in the philosophy called ‘Flower-And-Song.’ By ‘Flower’ they meant the ability to perceive that everything is perfect as a flower, yet passing before our eyes. This boils down to grasping the emotional reality that everything I know and love is both perfect as it is and already dying. To be a warrior meant the ability to hold these two profound emotions in the heart-mind at the same time. By ‘Song’ they meant that the only types of self-expression that really matter are those that give expression to the subjective experience of the ‘Flower.’ It’s so nice to see a modern-day practitioner of the ancient art of ‘Flower And Song!’
I love that image and have never forgotten it because it’s a perfect description of the way I try to live my life. So here I was, remembering this inspiring concept while I was standing at the kitchen sink, mechanically trimming and arranging these gorgeous flowers without paying the slightest bit of attention to where I was, what I was doing, or how I was feeling!
Was I savoring my subjective experience in that moment? Was I handling each rose with loving attention? Was I fully appreciating the fact that neither these flowers nor moments like this — perfect moments when I’ve just received a gift of flowers from my lover, when my body is strong and healthy and free of pain, when I have the strength in my legs to stand at the sink, the flexibility in my hands to hold the roses and trim their stems, the sensitivity in my skin to enjoy the cool water running from the tap, and the ability to see and touch the sturdy green stems and velvety petals — will last forever?
I wish! But no. I was off in some mental la-la land enjoying an abstract theory. I hadn’t even stopped thinking long enough to smell the roses! I was as far as one can get from being what William had said I was: a modern-day practitioner of the ancient art of ‘Flower And Song.’
I have to tell you, that’s annoying! And embarrassing. Especially for an idealistic perfectionist like me who wants to practice what she preaches. I was making the exact same mistake as every misguided seeker who has ever gone before me: I was worshiping the words and ideas of the scriptures while ignoring the physical reality to which they point.
I truly appreciate the idea of love. Everything in me aspires to loving myself and others and every moment of my life with all my mind and heart. But here’s the thing. Mostly I still love ideas more than realities. Because, let’s face it, practicing the art of seeing and loving the fleeting perfection in everything and everyone is hard! It’s a whole lot easier to escape into fantasies that have nothing to do with the way I actually live my life.
Happy Valentine’s Day everybody. On this day at least, I plan to practice more appreciating and less wishful thinking.