The Story of Expanded AwarenessFamilies are the compass that guide us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter. ~Brad Henry
There’s a vase full of roses on our dining table. Each week it’s a different color or a new variety. The first time I had the roses there, as soon as they turned slightly droopy I threw them out. Why not, right? I mean they weren’t doing anyone any good, looking so old.
One day, instead of throwing them out, I trimmed them a little bit and put them in a smaller vase. They perked right up and thrived for quite a while before it was time to throw them out.
As time went by, I got wiser. As the roses aged, I found a smaller vase to fit the trimmed stems. Then later transferred them into a mini vase. Finally I floated the blossoms alone, minus the stems, in a large white bowl to accentuate their beauty.
In a last gush of sentiment, I pulled the rose petals off the bowl blossoms when their time had come and sprinkled the petals into the bath, sprinkled them into a bowl, or dried them and left them out –whatever I could do to preserve their fragrance and sweetness.
I noticed something…as they aged, something else happened. Have you ever noticed how a new rose is so tight and complete, as though it is protecting itself…and then as it ages, each layer begins to curl outwards in the most lovely manner?
It’s as though the more it ages, the more open and beautiful it becomes. There are less barriers, there is more vulnerability and there is the presence of exquisite joy in its very being.
In a flash, I saw that my roses were not the only things in my life I had seen with limited awareness. Much to my sorrow, I realized that I had viewed my parents in exactly the same way: I’d been quick to discard them, judging my parents through the eyes of others, dismissive of them in the pursuit of what I wanted.
I was completely unaware that there could be a middle ground, a safe place to discover my purpose and yet stay within their warm circle. The more immature I was, the faster I pushed them out and away.
I realized that I had stopped appreciating the wonders of life and the kindness of others. I had stopped smelling at the roses. I had no time to enjoy the glowing sunsets.
Magnifying the pressures of daily work and annoyances had shrunk my capacity to recognize that I already had a beautiful life. I had diverted myself from where I really wanted to go and who I wanted to be.
I had been focusing on all the wrong things. When I forced myself to stop and just let myself be, everything around me came alive again. When I silenced my mind and became present, life simply fell into place. It had been there all along.
I finally understood the power of focus.
As I gazed at the beauty of my roses, I saw that my parents were still beautiful too. The realization was humbling. I was able to look at my parents with the wonder they must have once looked at me…the way I look at my children.
And when I see my mother now, I can see the Rose Rio Samba, delicate pink on the outside, revealing vibrant and joyous flashes of deep gold as it unfolds. My mother appears conservative but has an unusually ambitious exterior laced with unexpected bursts of gut-bursting humor and is dusted with the icing of golden-age Bollywood beauty and glamour.
My father…well I think of Knockout Roses. They’re resilient and powerful in an understated Jain kind of way. At first I thought he might be a purple, spiritual kind of rose but the more I got to know my father, I realized he’s the Sunny Knockout Rose.
He is bright and sweet but understated by his own choice. He is grounded and balanced–and like the Sunny Knockout–he contrasts nicely with brighter blooms (read: my mother the Rio Samba). And like anything else understated, one wouldn’t notice my father at first, in his quiet ways. It took years for me to set aside the resentment of youth, the focus on the thorns, to see the peaceful and loving man my father is.
I am grateful to realize this now, while they are still here. I am grateful for the richness & color that they bring to my life. The dreams I dream, the things I wish for…many seem to revolve around my parents in some way, and yet I know I am my very own “rose” as well.
The daily grind can be put away on a shelf at the end of the day. It is muting into the background while the richness of life, my family, my friends and my purpose becomes far more real in the light of awareness—infused with the vibrant colors of life.
Everything has come full circle. Everything is flowering in its own time, as it should.
~ ~ ~
How about you? Do you see your parents like week-old rose stems, ready to be tossed aside for a newer flower? Or can you appreciate the color that they can continue to bring to your life, even as you grow & flower & bring other plants into your garden?
How can you continue to appreciate them, or their memory if they have passed on? How can you view every rose in your garden— whether they be parents, friends, coworkers, spouses, or children–as beautiful and worthy in your sight? Here are three ideas:
- Time— a garden’s beauty does you no good if you never enter it. Turn off your gadgets, put away your work, and just be fully present with the people in your life.
- Water— flowers wilt without water, and so do the people in your life. Tell them what they mean to you, through little notes & emails, hugs, gifts, whatever “fertilizer” they most enjoy.
- Pictures— Why do you take a picture of a rose? To cherish its beauty. So why not do the same with the people you love? Take out the camera, and make some memories you will cherish for decades to come. Take written “pictures” too, by journaling what they mean to you, just as I have done with my parents.
Keep expanding your awareness, and I guarantee you that all the roses in your life will bring you more & more joy. Happy gardening!