Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lessons from My Pothos

For most of my life, I have been plagued with a black thumb. I couldn't keep cut flowers fresh for more than three days. And potted plants, forget it. Within a week, I could turn a beautiful, healthy houseplant into a pot of decay and mush. My dad was always giving me flowers and plants; to me, they were sad exiles to the punishing death row of plants that is my house. They were just another hopeful gesture doomed to remind me, within days, that I am an irresponsible failure (or a swift executioner).

One day, my friend Becky gave me a little pothos she had rooted and potted. Becky is a kind and magical individual who seems to have a deeply rooted connection with nature and the living world. She is a portrait of self-renewal and proof that people can choose to change themselves for the better. Simply put, she is everything that I am not. I thought to myself, "this poor little plant is doomed," even as Becky was extolling the virtues of the pothos.

In honor of Becky's faith in me, I decided to really make an effort to not kill the pothos. A week went by and the plant was still alive. Then a month. After about six months, the little guy had outgrown his pot and I took some clippings and gave rooting a try. It worked. A few more months and I had enough plant to try rooting a bit in water. Then, brimming with self confidence, I acquired a few more plants. Now I have a window full of semi-healthy, growing green things. Although there have been a few casualties along the way, including a supposedly indestructible aspidistra (thanks, Dad), most of the plants continue to grow.

Each time I look at that little pothos, I am reminded that I can change. I can be a better person. It hasn't happened overnight and I still make mistakes but little pothos reminds me that, no matter how old I get, I can still change myself. I, confirmed plant killer, can turn my black thumb to green (well, brownish green). I just have to keep trying; it helps to have friends who believe in you.
The original pothos (right) and some of its children.
Who, or what, has helped you become better? Please feel free to comment!

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