The other day I bought a peony. She was a bright, heavy burgundy. After I positioned her in her new home (an old glass jug on my dining table), she rewarded me by opening up a tiny bit more every day and as she opened up and grew in size, the red crept away and made space for first pink petals, then yellow and finally, white. I got a few more days with her then, in full bright bloom, before the petals began to cripple away. That flower demanded nothing from me — yet she gave me her all, until the end.
It’s the kind of romantic devotion we all dream of (no matter if we admit it or not). But I don’t really dream of devotion to me anymore. Quite the opposite: I wish I could give as carelessly as a peony. Share everything I know with others without even thinking of getting anything back. I want it to feel ok to be taken advantage of. I don’t want it to bother me that I’m only the 3rd person you call to see if I’m available for dinner or that you only text when you need something. I want to be so fully devoted to giving what I have, that I don’t even have time to think about that. I want to be more like nature.
We, people, love taking from nature, and only rarely do we give anything back. Why would we? She doesn’t demand anything. For many years I thought it was the same from person to person, human to human. I thought if I just told people I needed more affection, I required a thank you, an apology, or even just a little bit more empathy and attention, they would oblige. I would not feel taken advantage of. I would feel giving was worth it. But we all know that when you have to ask for something, it never feels quite right. Nature knows. She doesn’t ask.
It’s a sad truth that we often ignore, but hey, I just shared my secret death wish with you, the wish to (literally) be chopped by my stem and blossom until I die, losing all my colors on the way. I might as well say it.
It bothers me that it bothers me when I so openly help you out, I am there for you, gladly answer all your questions and give so much of my best work away for free, and you just shrug it off. After all, you’re used to receiving beauty. For free. All around you. Changing with the seasons.
I’m getting older and one of the advantages of getting old is that you generally have fewer fucks to give. If I think you’ve been a shitty friend there’s a bigger chance I’ll just stop hanging out with you than trying to fix it. If I keep helping you and never get anything back, I really don’t care anymore. I think I’m slowly becoming a bit more like nature. I stop trying to figure out what your last text meant and why you never share my work or like my poetry on Instagram. Sometimes, of course, I still ponder it and it still hurts but most of the time, I don’t care. It’s the best feeling in the world.
I have a fresh peony sitting next to me right now and as I eye her and wonder when she will open up and grace me with her blossom, it suddenly becomes pretty clear to me why she does her death dance in the first place:
She blossoms because that’s what she does. It’s not for me. I’m just her witness.
I give because it’s what I do. It’s not for you. But you may be my witness.