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THE LIFE OF ALL THINGS
May 1, 2008
 
So many spent daffodils! Most of them are past their prime here, and the tulips have taken over. And even some of them are blowsy and over-the-hill, too; tulips don't have a long life in bloom. Meanwhile, the alliums (allia?) are readying their assault. None of these glories lasts forever. The garden changes every day; its shocking spring beauty cannot last. One star must yield the stage to another. We take turns in our shining.

The bloom is a stage in the life of a plant. While it catches the human eye more than any other, it isn't really the most important. There isn't a most important stage; they're all indispensable. After the petals have fallen to the ground, the leaves continue their hard work, making sugar out of sunlight and chlorophyll. The roots draw in the rotted wealth of other spent lives -- plant, animal, they don't care who or what it was, they're happy to absorb its recycled energy.

There are too many daffodils for me to keep up with their faded blooms. I content myself with nipping off a few every time I pass. Removing the spent blooms is important, and not just because they're not as pretty as their successors. The real reason for helping them leave the scene is that the leaves and roots will continue to try to support them as long as their stems are there. They become a dead-end diversion from the important work at hand: growth, and preparation for the next season's life.

All of life is like that. It demands to be lived in the present and in the future. We can remember the past, and we can love the ways it has nourished what follows it, but we cannot live in it. The past is over. We must do what we are doing now, and prepare for what we will do, and we must spend all we have on those two things. We can't afford to divert our energy to support things whose season is done.

That something comes to an end doesn't mean it wasn't worthwhile. The things of humankind are not eternal; they come and they go. They change state, from current reality to blessed memory. We need never lose them if we will accept this, the life of all things.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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