My Easter cactus is blooming. Flowers always make me smile, but this cactus, even more so. I inherited it from my grandmother when she passed, who inhereited from my mother when she passed. I don’t know where Ma got it. Knowing my mother, it could have been a gift, or she could have won it in a game of cribbage. Who knows? But in any case, this plant has to be more than 35 years old. My aunt and sister each have identical siblings to mine. Mine flowers more because i live farther south, but all three produce and continue to thrive. I think most of us tend to think of plants as transient things, but this plant (well, the three plants really) is a part of our family. And a long-term one at that. Given that such cacti are rumored to live for over 100 years in some cases, i expect we will all get more lives out of them. Perhaps i will even pass them down to my own weedlings some day.
Also on my radar this week is the “Giraffe Cam” at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York. Myself and a ridiculous number of others have been watching for weeks now for a baby giraffe to be born. Giraffes have a 13 to 15 month gestation period – Daunting for humans – But considering a giraffe only lives about 25 years, i’d imagine it’s even more so to them. Also noteworthy is the fact that giraffes are single moms… The father plays very little into the rearing of the offspring. So motherhood is basically a bit of a bum wrap for giraffes, between the excruciatingly long pregnancy and the solitary rearing. But i’ve never heard a giraffe complain.
Bill Paxton died last week. In his honor, i rewatched Tombstone. There’s a great quote by his character, Morgan Earp, in the movie: “Look at all the stars. You look up and you think, ‘God made all this and He remembered to make a little speck like me.’ It’s kind of flattering, really.” Flattering, indeed. So many wonders in this universe, so many magnificent creatures, plants, geological formations… And in the midst of it all sits each one of us.
There are days when i am grateful that God/Goddess/Universe was inclined to make such complicated creatures such as humans. Biologically, mentally, and spiritually complicated. And fragile. We’ve neither the endurance of plants nor the resilience of most other creatures. As Montgomery Scott once said, “The more you over think the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.” So while i admire the exacting nature the Universe had when She created us as beings, there are days when i wonder if She thinks She should have stopped at the duck-billed platypus. Quit while She was ahead, so to speak. Because now She has a creature who has gotten too big for its own britches.
We fight amongst ourselves. We are terribly selfish. And we treat all other life as inferior. Obviously, this isn’t true of all individuals. The people i know are all good-hearted. But as a group, we don’t flower. Nor do we wait patiently thru more than a year’s gestation for ANYTHING. That puts us behind both my Easter cactus and the giraffe of New York.
Granted, neither my cactus nor the giraffe are painting Picassos or writing symphonies, so it’s not like they’re ahead on every level. I suck at making pie crust, but i definitely make it better than the giraffe does. (And if you think pie crust isn’t a work of art, i’d argue that you never had a good one.)
So where am i going with all this? I have no idea. It’s more that i am coming to internalize that humans are no greater a creation than any of the Universe’s others. It is only when we become caretaker of each other, and of all the other creations, that we truly achieve any sort of right to the pedestal we put humans on. And lately, as a species, we haven’t been doing the best job of it. But we can do better. I have faith.
So, as the saying goes, the first step off that pedestal is going to be a bitch. We had better be prepared to tuck and roll! And maybe, if we work really hard, we can earn our way back up.