As handily as words generally come to me, I am always at a loss when it comes to describing a particular flower. There is such a short and inadequate list of qualifiers to choose from when speaking of flowers that it sometimes frustrates me, as it did today, right up until this moment.
As so often happens, truths reveal themselves to me as I write, and this was one of those times. I realized that words like “beautiful,” “pretty,” “gorgeous,” or “breathtaking” really do not do a flower any justice at all, and that I am actually insulting it by attempting to describe it at all. When I assign a descriptive adjective to it, I am limiting its ability to reach another viewer in the same way that it did me, and I am confining it within the parameters of my own narrow command of the language. I’m enclosing it inside my own meaning, and that might not be at all what it says to anyone else.
So I will refrain from doing that from now on, and I will simply look at a flower, such as this zinnia, and ponder what it represents without giving it voice or word.
For the flower itself IS the word, and how many more do I need? How adequately could anyone describe what’s going on in that flower, in that color, deep within its heart, where smaller tinier petals emerge to enhance its appearance and that take the complexity of its design to a whole new level?
I read something recently about how evolution is only part of the larger picture as to how everything in this world came to be, from the tiniest single-celled organism to the tallest tree, from the most miniscule bit of algae to the upright creature that is the human. I came up with what I think might be a working analogy not long ago, which involved a stack of lumber, a box of nails, and a simple hammer. I approached the theory in this way: if I stack some pine boards in a corner, place a box of ten-penny nails on it, along with a claw hammer, how long will it take for it all to evolve into a bookcase, a set of shelves, or a coffee table? The answer is obvious: forever, which is a very long time. Or to put it another way, when will those materials actually become something else beyond a pile of sawdust and rusted metal? Again, the answer is obvious: never.
Never, that is, unless someone comes along, assembles those boards into a particular configuration and joins them together using the hammer and the nails. And that’s just a simple bookcase or a coffee table, which has nothing even remotely to do with a zinnia or how it came to be.
I will leave my little theory to conjecture. Suffice it to say that I cannot look at a zinnia and not wonder how on earth it happened, and whatever I did right for it to choose my life to beautify.
Not long ago, I posted another photo of a flower here along with a short blurb about how I had paid only 25 cents for the packet of seeds, and the many different types of blossoms those seeds produced. I wonder how many people who saw it realized the “profound implication” that I was talking about that day…that, for a mere 25 cents, I was able to create a small paradise in a pot that stands just outside my door.
I could go out and spend thousands of dollars on something that I’ve always wanted. Or, I can spend 25 cents and get, well, this, this, that defies description, that holds in its heart mysteries I will probably never fathom, and that, at the very least, deserves to be honored with more than just a few inadequate words…