People seek to solve problems. Big problems, small problems, it doesn’t matter. We define ourselves and what we’re capable of based on our solutions.
The ever-repetitive problem is simple for the young adult: what is love, and who do we love?
If I underestimate you, I put myself at a massive disadvantage. Suppose that I go ahead and underestimate you. I might assume that you’re a loser who will never go places in life because you’re simply NOT GOOD at one aspect of your life. Well that’s just great for me, because one of two possibilities will result:
- You’re going to work your butt off in that one region of life and eventually become really successful at what you do. As in like a lot better than me. As in like, I might not pay attention to the progress you make because I’ve already cast you as a failure who will never achieve anything substantial (in that one certain aspect of life). I tell myself that there’s not a chance that you could ever reach, let alone surpass my level of “success and expertise” for whatever we’re competing for. Perhaps I disregard your ability, and I underestimate you. Grand mistake on my part. I’ve undervalued your determination, your perseverance, and your willpower. And by the time I’ve pulled my face away from the spot on the wall I’ve been staring at much too intently, by the time I’ve taken a step back to evaluate any potential “threats” or “competitors,” it will be too late.
- You’re going to realize that the one aspect of life that we’ve been focusing on isn’t such a significant part of your life, and that you’re probably better at something else for which I am inadequate. It might hold more value in your eyes, so it might just make sense for you to abandon the competition we’ve been maintaining. You might take with you the experience and lessons you’ve learned, so that overall, you are a well rounded person. You are going to instead invest your time and energy into something else and leave me in the dust. Because you know what? That one particular aspect of life doesn’t define who you are, and it certainly doesn’t define your value as a person. If I am foolish enough to think that it does, then that’s just an arbitrary, self-serving assertion made that will only come back to smack me in the face in the future.
Do you know why these things are going to happen? Because I don’t know you as well as you know yourself. I don’t know what you go through, and I certainly don’t know what your life is like. I don’t know your past, present and future, and I don’t know your morals and values. I know, at best, just one side of you, and it’s wrong of me to assume that knowing just one side of you is enough to reflect your entire character, because chances are, it doesn’t.
Assumption leads to stereotype, which only yields generalization and arbitrary misinterpretation.
The moral of the story is: don’t assume unless you have to. It will only end up hurting others and yourself. You have nothing to gain from assuming, so why not just evaluate everyone equally, because nothing positive has ever resulted from underestimation in the past, and it certainly won’t lead to anything good in the future.
Dear houseplant of mine:
Life is better than death, that’s for sure. If there’s a chance that you can muster up your plant willpower and restore your health, you should.
There’s always a risk that life has value. And you know that, otherwise you would have already let yourself wilt by now, correct?
Oh I see. I haven’t had the time to set you in the sun correct? You feel confined to sitting on my desk, and you long to be like the big tree at school whose leaves turn a most brilliant shade of orange in the fall? Yeah…if I were you I’d be jealous too, but I still don’t think it’s worth letting yourself die.
Life has more value in death. When you die, there’s no coming back to this “body” of yours, sitting safely in your brown clay pot. You might claim that you’d rather be free. One side of the argument is that you’d have a reason to live. You could congregate with other plants like yourself and converse about the weather, the soil tickling your roots, and the worms squirming on the ground. True, maybe it’s a little boring in this house, where you absorb more light bulb light than UV rays. Maybe I’m not around that much and rather boring to talk to. Perhaps I neglect you sometimes and desert you for days on end. But haven’t we had good times?
Believe me, from an optimistic point of view, you have it much better than the outdoor plants. Being a houseplant is special. I can feel your leaves shivering in anxiety during the stormiest of nights when thunder shatters your non-existent eardrums and lightning bolts light your non-existent eyes up in fear. The plants out there suffer, and you are guarded by the brick and mortar that holds this house together. Regard the roof over your head not as a jail cell of sorts, but rather as a shield from anything that could ever endanger you.
I’ve read headlines of studies (not the actual studies themselves) that claim that talking to plants can be beneficial for us humans. So thanks for all that you’ve done so far, even though I don’t feel much different.
I need you to hold on to dear life. I need you to absorb the fertilizer I sprinkle on your soil and the water that I spray generously on your leaves.
Death is inevitable. You and I will both be dead at some point in time, but don’t let it happen without a fight. If life is meaningless, there’s no downside to preserving it, but any risk that it has value means extinguishing it would be bad.
In conclusion, I can buy you another plant buddy if I’m truly that hard to talk to. How about a beautiful pot of African violets? Or a nice sturdy cactus? Whatever floats your boat, just hold on for dear life.
PS. I got this writing prompt from 642 Things to Write About.
Tea gets cold.
A song ends, and a new one starts.
Children grow up.
Paint dries, and
Records are broken,
A pen runs out of ink,
The earth revolves around the sun.
People fall in and out of love,
Opportunities disappear and others open up.
A plant lives
A plant dies.
New ways to save humanity
Go out of style.
Is entirely worthwhile.
Paper turns yellow.
A friendship is formed.
New ways to destroy humanity
Someone grows impatient,
A lightbulb burns out.
Without a doubt.
Priorities are reevaluated.
A body decomposes.
A relationship ends.
I’m getting old. Wow, 16? Where have the years gone? The transition from trick or treating and getting tired at 11 PM to never sleeping before midnight and having my backpack weigh 70 pounds has been shaky, to say the least. My innocence slipped out the door in seventh grade when I asked my friends what a virgin was. I remember the first time I actually listened to a radio station besides NPR – 6th grade. I remember the first time I tried to put on mascara – I got an eye infection. In elementary school, my mom literally had to put on my clothes for me as a sleepy-eyed 8 year old Catherine complained of drowsiness from only 9 hours of sleep. I remember all my teachers since pre-school, and I remember the first book that was ever read to me – the Boxcar Children.
Now, I’m in high school. The days literally go buy 20 times faster than they used to. I can put on makeup without a mirror, I can survive with 4 hours of sleep. I can accept the fact that I can’t fit into my 7th grade jeans and that I can never be the kid at summer camp again, only the counselor (except for maybe next summer). No longer is my bookshelf filled with the “A to Z Mysteries” series and Mrs. Pigglewiggle books, but rather, SAT workbooks and old textbooks. The most exciting reads I have time to read include Jane Eyre (which is actually somewhat interesting) and my AP Euro book (which I like to read sometimes, because knowing the background and development of current day events is beneficial).
I’m never going to be that young ever again. From now on, I’m only going to have to shoulder more responsibilities. One day, I might be responsible for someone else’s life besides my own. I’m going to have to read the news and understand what the 2016 presidential candidates advocate to fulfill my role as an informed voter. There are so many laws and policies that I’m unaware of, and if I make a mistake, I don’t have the excuse of not being aware of consequences anymore.
I don’t like getting old, because I think life will only get harder as I continue aging. But I also want to get older because while I will have more burdens, I’ll also have more opportunities. With each birthday, I get more privileges that I envied as a child. I can drive! I can watch PG-13 movies! I can eat sample at Costco without my mom’s approval! Soon, I’ll be able to vote, drink, smoke, get into R-rated movies, and I’ll be eligible to get a job, and make my own money. Soon, I will be able to order products from infomercials without my dad telling me it’s a stupid investment, because I know it will be. I’ll just be swayed by the infomercial.
I’ll mature. I’ll find out more about the world as I travel to more places. I’ll meet better people that tell me wiser things and help me make more educated decisions. My friends will encourage me to do what I love. Perhaps someday, I will have the chance to be the teacher instead of the student, even though I’m learning something new every day. Maybe I’ll become a role model instead of the one admiring my hero. And maybe, I’ll finally find out WHAT I’m meant to do, who I’m meant to be.
But for now, I’m still relatively young. I’m older, but that’s not such a tragedy anymore.