When Something Beautiful Dies
When we let something beautiful die the world is a less beautiful place. We tend to a prize rose bush and we water it every day and we prune it when it needs pruning. We feed it and we tend to it and we enjoy its perfect fragrant blooms. Every day we look at it and take pride in it and we derive pleasure from its beauty. We look at that rose bush every day and we don’t notice that some of its leaves, the ones hidden inside away from the sun have started to wither. We don’t notice the leaves which are hiding from the sun have died. We only see the beautiful roses glowing facing the sun.
Year after year we tend to that prize rose bush and year after year a few more leaves inside it are starting to brown and wither – and die. One morning, before a rain, when the rose bush braces itself for an approaching storm, we notice something doesn’t look quite right with it, but we brush it aside. We pretend we didn’t notice. We don’t like to think that something is terribly wrong with the rose bush that we have cherished and tended and cared for so many years.
We think maybe a little more plant food and a little more water is all it needs. So we feed it and water it a little more often. It just needs a little more pruning, we think and we prune it a little more. And we notice, as we’re trimming it back, that so many of the leaves inside it are dying – or dead. A little more care will help, we think. So we tend to it more and do all the things we think will make it healthy again, but the leaves keep withering and the leaves keep dying and we keep trying to ignore what we see. We get a different brand of plant food and we think perhaps we are watering it too much. So we alter the care we give it, but the leaves keep dying.
We notice one day that even those leaves which used to glow healthy and green in the sun every day are withering and starting to die.
And then it happens. One morning we wake up and we notice even the blooms are withering and the bush itself is deformed and ugly. Well, maybe not ugly, but It isn’t as beautiful as it used to be. It has become bent and stooped, and the blossoms smaller and fading – and some of the rose petals have fallen off and are swirling around on the ground in a hot summer wind.
We come to realize that the beautiful rose bush we loved so much, isn’t beautiful anymore. Despite the time we gave it, the food we fed it, the water we gave it, the love and time we gave it, it is dying and old and its beauty is gone. We start tending it less and less and soon we get up every morning and go about our day and barely even give the rose bush a thought. It’s just there, dying, and we just accept that no matter what we do, the rose bush is doomed. So we walk by it and don’t see it. We don’t water it, we don’t tend it, we don’t feed it, we don’t spend time with it, and despite being brutally ignored and unloved, the rose bush survives. It is broken and crooked and bent, it doesn’t look anything like the beautiful rose bush we once enjoyed and loved so much.
It is just another aging, dying, withering, ignored rose bush like so many others in the neighborhood. We go about our lives and the rose bush becomes less and less and less important. We barely even bother to look at it anymore, let alone care for it or tend it. But somehow, despite the lack of love and water and time and attention, the rose bush struggles on, it still flowers but the flowers are dull and withered; they are almost lifeless.
Month after month the rose bush somehow survives – in spite of our neglect. We accept it as it is. We’re not happy with it – we just accept it. That withered old dying bush in stuck in the ground near the front porch. One we took pride in it, now we barely notice it is still there.
We don’t want to uproot it and remove it from our lives because we still remember when it was young and beautiful. We remember the love and care we gave it and the hope we found in its lovely flowers. We recall the many hours we spent tending to it and caring for it; we remember the many hours of enjoyment we took from it. So we allow it to live despite the brown leaves, stooped stems and drooping
blossoms. Though it is what it has become, we still can’t bring ourselves to kill it and throw it in the trash. So the rose bush struggles on, bend and miserable, brown and aching.
We give it no care at all. When we walk by it we we never look at it or give it a thought. Then one day an angry storm blows in and damages trees and downs power lines and disrupts our daily routine and wakes us from our complacency. The storm dark and ominous gives us pause for a long moment and then the moment is gone and the sun returns. In the sun, we assess the damage: some broken branches, lawn furniture overturned, but no major damage; nothing that can’t be fixed in an hour or two. After we’ve cleaned up from the storm we happen to notice that the rose bush, the once the focus our love and care, has been stripped even of its last struggling, withered blooms. It has become a wraith – a shadow of itself.
Still we can’t bring ourselves to dig it out and discard its pathetic, twisted remains. We have too much work, too much emotion, too many days and weeks and months and years of our lives given to it to summarily uproot it and toss it away with the trash. We hope that it comes back even if it only comes back as a withered, bent, caricature of itself.
The rose bush does come back and it does come back uncomely and and straggly, struggling to produce even one small, dull flower. We accept whatever sad bloom it gives us, because it still is giving us everything that it has.
We can barely recall how good we used to feel when we smelled the fragrant blossoms on a warm summer evening. Several times we even vow to recommit ourselves to its care, but we just can’t seem to the love or enthusiasm we once had.
Because we cannot completely separate ourselves from the world we live in, we like to think there are easy and simple solutions for everything. We like to think if we can’t fix something we once cared for and loved, quickly and easily, we can quickly and easily replace it. We live in an instant, throw-away world where instant food, instant sleep, instant pleasure, even instant “love” abounds. We never stop to think that the substance of our lives is disappearing just like the beauty of that rose. We struggle not to become as instant and shallow as the world all around us. But it’s so hard.
But we just can’t seem to fix that rose bush, yet we just can’t seem to summon up the courage to replace it. The time and the effort and the love we invested in it just won’t allow us to pluck it from the ground, toss it away, and plant a new rose bush in it’s place. We just can’t seem to accept a simple and quick fix for the rose bush to which we had given so much of ourselves.
The rose bush struggles on, day after day, month after month, in spite of our neglect and carelessness. It somehow survives. It survives in spite of us. We have forgotten that when the rose bush was beautiful we gave it more than water. We have forgotten how beautiful it was when we gave it more than food. We have forgotten what it was like when we did more than prune it and tend to it. We have forgotten how we loved it so and how we enjoyed the pleasures its magnificent blossoms gave us.
We gave it more than the things it needed and we needed the things it gave us. We once gave that rose bush our love and our time freely because we wanted to. We didn’t tend to it or feed it or prune it because we expected anything in return. We loved enjoyed the care and attention we freely gave to it, and we never felt the attention we gave as a chore or an obligation. And it flourished and gave us back much more than it received from us. We freely gave of our ourselves without expecting anything in return. But what we received in return was far greater than anything we could have imagined.
And then we realize, maybe too late…
When we let something beautiful die, the world is a less beautiful place.