I have company. There are five stunning orchid blossoms here in my living room with me. They are white. They crept open, appearing in definite slow motion. One’s facing me now like an alien stallite dish. Out of nowhere it grew and opened and now it’s looking right at me, as a simple matter of fact. This somehow slays me – It’s incredible! And yet in a minute I’ve moved on to watching a 60s era british murder mystery. The whole length of the episode, I am still graced by this utter perfection, a quiet confrontation. And now I’m interested in a snack.
Like a flower lottery this orchid has bloomed for a record third time in two years. Here they are – five blooms.
Plant metaphors remind me that most of human thinking about humans is very off base. A plant is dependent not on other plants, but on the elements of sun, air, soil, and water, for it’s sustenance. Our roots may touch and create strength in some relative proximity, but we don’t have the power to directly nourish or be a source for others in our adult forms.
And yet, it turns out, I’m not a plant, in that I write, draw and I also walk around, use my hands and thumbs. But why this orchid encounter, me and it (them?), here, now? To consider this question helps me grasp the immensity of silent, easily overlooked, perfection with me, whether I notice it, or value it, or not.
Maybe some of my organs are like orchids – emanating a symmetry and design of their own, staring out dishlike and soft. If so, can I also be just that? Can I drop into, and relax into such ever present, easy bodyness?
One Thursday I was sitting on retreat, and I tried a meditation described in the middle section of Eat, Pray Love. The Balinese medicine man tells Elizabeth Gilbert to ‘smile in her liver’ as a daily practice. For about ten minutes, I tried it out for variety. Right around that time, I was relating best to God as if God is the KoolAid Pitcher Man, busting through heavy brick walls with an oh YEAH!, in times of trial, quenching the thirst of the hot and tired kids playing on the other side. Later on that same day, I went for a echocardiogram (a heart ultrasound). The technician was moving the sensor around under my rib, angled upward, and identified my liver to me on the monitor. I looked at the form and did a quiet doubletake. I pointed and asked Is that a smiley face? He leaned in puzzled, and concurred. It appeared so. He printed out the surprising image for me. Even weirder, the face we saw had the same wide set eyes and overall u-shape and smile of the Koolaid Pitcher Man himself. No shit. See here:
The orchid bloom facing me looks a little like an ancient face, unapologetic, fractal, there. Like the liver in me? The processes happening inside of and despite what I think I am. The arc like that most ancient face, impersonal, magnificent, mysterious, here.
(In case you’d like to see the Koolaid Pitcher Man in action, here’s an original commercial from the late 70s)