(Also written on July 20th, while on the plane – see Airplane Rant #2)
On another note, I had a thought about flowers.
Recently my boyfriend and I went out to dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Vancouver.
He had some little flowers on his plate, which he handed to me at the end of the meal.
I commented that that was the first time he’d given me flowers, and he said it was because he knew I don’t like cut flowers.
It’s true, I have long struggled with the idea of severing flowers for the sake of having something to watch die. It’s so selfish, it seems to me, to just decide that their purpose is to decorate our spaces, to belong to us.
But I love them. I love looking at them. I love bouquets, and flowers. I even tried to get a job at a florist shop, but decided I didn’t have enough time to really commit to it.
This is a dilemma for me, as evidently I just don’t know how to feel about flowers.
My little sisters will sometimes give me flowers that they’ve picked, and no matter how many times I’ve explained that I don’t want them to pick flowers, they do it anyway.
It’s normal, kids do it, adults do it, people just do it. They pick flowers, they buy bouquets, they use them to symbolize their love and to celebrate occasions and to decorate their living spaces.
One of the themes in my recently completed short film, The Gardener (trailer), is exactly this – the irony in severed flowers, that what they supposedly symbolize is love or affection or something along those lines, but what they really are is beautiful things that are ripped apart from where they should be, only to sit in some water and eventually die.
In the film, the theme of flowers is paralleled to the idea of marriage, and how it looks all beautiful and symbolic, but in the context of the film, really what was being proposed was a chance at a slow death by being taken away from your roots and left to wither.
Over-dramatic, maybe, but I think it resonated within the film.
And yet I am still divided. When my Mom puts flowers in my room to welcome me home, when my little sister hands me a flower, when a friend gives me a rose on my birthday, or when my boyfriend hands me a flower off of his dinner plate – I don’t feel offended by the sacrifice of the flower. I feel loved and appreciated.
In a way they are like markers in life. Perhaps when you were born, someone gave your mother flowers, as a celebration of your birth. Perhaps when you accomplished something, you were given flowers. Perhaps you fell in love, and gave someone flowers. And perhaps you’ve lost someone, and left them flowers.
They are a symbol, a communication device, a means to create a connection.
Humanity needs flowers, we need to sever them, to keep them, to give them away, because we don’t have enough tools, whether through language or through other forms of contact, to express what we feel. Maybe on some level we imagine that flowers – nature’s perfect imperfections, glorious yet ephemeral – communicate with us better than we do with each other. Or we communicate better through them.
What am I trying to accomplish here is not to convince people that they shouldn’t “use” flowers. Although I hope you will consider potted ones instead…
I just think that we need to question these actions. It seems to me that in many ways this issue reminds me of so many things in this world that we take for granted. Things we assume are ours to give, when in fact they are not. It’s historical, it’s cultural, it’s ingrained in our existence – but that doesn’t make it right.