A frangipani tree on my balcony brought smiles to our faces last week. The joy a single beautiful flower evoked was amazing. There was so much excitement in the house when the flower opened and graced our home with its fragrance and pure white beauty, laced with a heart of golden yellow.
I first spotted the bud early one morning when it was just about to unfurl. There was an energy I sensed, waiting to be unleashed. It was as if the petals were getting ready for their journey into full bloom. A sense of expectation, like muscles primed for action just before the athlete, gets ready at the start line of a race. The outcome is not known. The expectation and excitement of ‘what could be…’ fill each petal, as they wait to open and see the world.
By mid-afternoon, the opening had begun and late evening the frangipani was in full bloom. I used to call it the temple tree because when I was a kid growing up on a tea plantation there was a beautiful tree that had these pure white flowers that dotted the floor at the estate temple. I took a picture of the flower and sent it to mum and dad. From them, I learnt its botanical name ‘plumeria’ and lots of other interesting stuff.
But I digress. My learning for this week is that there is both beauty and pain in growing. The weeks and months of daily care that my wife has given to that plant are not noticed or known to the world that sees the beautiful blossoming. Digging the soil to loosen it and allow the roots to get the nourishment they need. Fertiliser, repotting, providing shade and so much more, went into ensuring that the time would come when this plant could flower.
We went to sleep that night not knowing a storm was on its way. Strong winds lashed our balcony and, in the morning, our lonely and beautiful frangipani flower was lying on the floor, shaken free ahead of time possibly. Who knows maybe that was the plan all along. Its final resting place was in our small puja corner giving thanks to the gods on our behalf.
For a brief moment, I felt sad. It seemed unfair that the frangipani flower had only got one day to glow in the world and its life had been cut short. Then I told myself this is nature’s way. It is not sad or bad or good or glorious. The lesson is not to focus on the flower or how long it blooms. The focus is on living well. Doing the daily rituals of watering, caring for the plant, providing it the right mix of shade and sun. The roots are strong. The plant is healthy and then I notice four more buds are waiting to blossom. This is growth. A continuous process. Built on a foundation of doing the work every day. Along the way, leaves will grow. The trunk will get stronger. The roots will spread and occasionally a flower or fruit will appear.
The race is long and the finish line is not a victory. The joy is in the running. In the growing. In the flowering. And then doing the same again and again and again. That is the lesson I learn from my little frangipani flower this week.
Growing pains soon turn to ‘growing gains’ when I shift focus away from just the flower and look at the plant as a whole. My frangipani is strong and healthy and doing what it’s meant to do, touching the world with its beauty. I tell myself that I too must do my best to bring joy to my balcony, my home, and my environment. I must keep growing.
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