It’s mid-summer, shading into late summer, where I live. This is the year I threw myself into planting flowers carefully, feeding and cultivating them, and keeping them fresh and healthy to decorate the outside of the house.
This is a contrast with previous years, when I started out with wild, paradisal visions of glowing heaps of blossoms that would be the envy of the neighbourhood, only to ignore sunlight requirements, then to forget to water everything for weeks on end, and finally to gloomily despair as all my plantings withered and collapsed into the dirt I had never bothered to fertilise. How humiliating those failed, empty window boxes were to me.
But it looks nice this year! By my standards, anyway. Some of the potato vines are a little gnawed, the geraniums have gone a bit leggy, and the lobelias seem frazzled as lobelias often will; but overall, I have created a definite overall impression of floweriness in the general area of our house. I call this success. I adore flowers, and it feels so good to see them everywhere I look.
Even better, I can see them from inside the house. I say “even better,” because some of the flower boxes I planted actually look better from inside the house than they do from the outside. One particular window box, which is right outside our bedroom, and which originally overflowed with pink and white impatiens, has been chosen by our moronic cat as a handy stepping-stone.
He knows that if he spends some wild evening chasing after moles and crickets and then he misses curfew, he can always hoist himself up onto my flowers and meow his fool head off until we wake up and open the screen, uttering profanities only a cat can deserve.
But even trampled and festooned with moronic cat hair, the flowers look nice, at least from the inside. They are resilient, and they are bright. I can see them from inside my house whenever I pass by that window. They’re the last thing I see in the blue moonlight before I sleep, and the first thing that swims into focus in the orange morning.
They remind me constantly that there is still loveliness in the world, still resilience, still freshness, still time to grow. Silly little impatiens with their simple petal faces, and they bloom all season long. They don’t mind the shade. Some of them look directly into the window, nodding and smiling at me in the breeze.
The other day, I checked to see how well they show up from the road, and the answer is: Not at all. What do you know about that!
This does not detract from my enjoyment of them. If anything, it increases it, since it’s a tiny little reminder that “just because I like them” is a perfectly good reason to have them. I am not less important than strangers passing by. Beauty is important, and so am I.
Give yourself things to encourage yourself, just for yourself, just to refresh your soul. Don’t worry overly what your life looks like from the outside, if you can help it. Sometimes we spend all our time arranging things nicely so they look well to the casual passer-by, and we leave for ourselves only the backside of beauty.
We embroider our hours with elaborate designs, but consign ourselves to enjoy only the knotty chaos behind the fabric. It’s what knitters call “the private side” — the side that shows all your work and mistakes and efforts and toil, without revealing what it’s all for.
Whatever it is that brings you joy, do let yourself enjoy it. Don’t just share photos of your life, but look at what’s in front of you. If dressing well gives you pleasure, then dress well even if you’re not leaving the house.
If making things gives you pleasure, don’t persuade yourself you must monetise your skill; just enjoy. Don’t put everything you love on display for others to consume, but delight in it yourself. You are not less important than any stranger who happens to be passing by.