You Can’t Stop Growing, Even If You Try


Once upon a time, I received an ivy plant as a gift from someone. They included a very nice placard that spelled out the meaning of ivy for me –  saying that the plant conveyed messages of fidelity, friendship and affection as well as love. Now, the person who bestowed this offering upon me gave me absolutely none of those things. In fact, she caused me a fair amount of duress and discomfort; and while I would never wish ill-will on another person, I also wouldn’t mind if the universe sucker-punched her in the face repeatably. Needless to say I wasn’t particularly attached to my new greenery, but somehow instead of attempting to set it on fire or shoving it down a garbage disposal; I simply brought it home.

She had used some sort of crafty shit; puffy paint or glitter glue to draw hearts on the plastic container and the first thing I did was peel them off and throw them away. The ivy wasn’t like, growing crazy or anything; it had a few sprouted vines that remained well-contained in the small pot the plant had come in. When I got home I just put it wherever, and didn’t really give a second thought about whether or not it required things like sunlight, or water, or anything really. I literally ignored this plant and considered the morbid fact that maybe I had only brought it home because I wanted to watch it wither and die.

I saw this vine as a representation of something I wanted to watch fade away; a part of my life that I wanted to eradicate. I refused to pay a lick of attention to my ivy, instead I walked by it day-by-day with disdain, rolling my eyes at how it seemed to continue to survive despite my constant neglect and feelings of loathing towards it. Every now and again, I’d throw some water it’s way – feeling as though it was some kind of pariah in my life, something I despised with every fiber of my being but also admired for it’s apparent vigor for vitality. We were in constant battle, that plant and I, and my roommate often poked fun at the fact that no matter what I did, it seemed to have one-up on me.

Literally though, I could have thrown acid and pesticide at this thing and it would have come out – guns blazing. When I decided to move across the country (again) I had to make some serious life choices. You can only fit so much in a Ford Focus and all of a sudden you are faced with deciding whether or not a lampshade, pillow, or pair of socks makes the cut. Every square inch matters and unless you’ve ever been in this position, you might not understand how serious that statement is.

My car was packed from top to bottom, and one of the last things I did was begrudgingly stick my ivy plant in the cup holder of my car, silently cursing the fact that it had somehow not only remained alive but grown, despite my best efforts to kill it. I just felt like if it had made it through almost two months of me giving it the stink eye and projecting all of my hatred into it’s seedling – that it had some kind of tale to tell and there was some lesson to be learned from it. I stuck it there like a cup of coffee and never once tended to it over the course of my cross-country journey. Nonetheless, it made it.

Once I arrived at my destination, I wasn’t even sure why I still had the damn thing but I decided to re-pot it, because as the weeks went by it quickly outgrew it’s original container. Now, as it stands, the vines are spilling over the sides – threatening to grow down the sides of my bureau, and I realize that this little shit; is not about to give up.  I deprived it of the very few necessities it needed to survive and yet – here it was, mocking me.

I realize now that it was bestowed upon me to teach me a lesson; but it had nothing to do with who gave it to me. Not to say she didn’t mean anything to me, because she did at one time. I am forever changed because of her, and I don’t need a houseplant to remind me of that. I also realize much like everything else in the world, this plant is a metaphor for my existence. That even when you don’t care of something, it doesn’t mean it’s going to stop growing. Even when you neglect to nurture something properly, it can still survive.

image(1)It calls to mind a quote from William Butler Yeats, he said: “Happiness is neither virtue or pleasure not this thing nor that but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”

So don’t forget to be good to yourself but also know that even when you’re not, that’s okay too. No matter what you’re going through, you’re growing and going even if you feel you’ve stalled. You’re probably a lot more resilient than you give yourself credit for and whatever it is that’s dragging you down right now? Don’t even worry because you’ve got it. You can maintain and handle, life is actually your bitch – and not the other way around. It’s been a hell of a summer for me folks – full of the highest highs and the lowest lows and plenty of sunset dance parties on top of mountains. I’ve never felt more neurotic and grounded all at once and some days I look at myself in the mirror and wonder what the fuck it is I’m doing in this great big world.

But at the end of every day I force myself to reflect on the good things, and I realize there are so many of them. I really like the nights I get home, sit with myself, and really feel completely happy to be who I am, and where I am. Sorry to be cheesy but that’s pretty fucking cool. I will never stop going, I will never stop growing and above all – I’ll always be okay.

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