We all desire something beautiful. Whether a new hairstyle, a work of art, an emotion we can’t quite name, the hum of nature or a piece of someone’s heart, we chase beauty.
A small part of finding beauty, for me, is being around nature. As I’ve mentioned before, my hibiscus trees are tropical, which means they shouldn’t be in an area below 55F. I wasn’t sure they would survive the colder Pennsylvanian months, even with bringing them inside for the winter. What’s more incredible than their survival? The trees blooming.
Though what I expected to be a vibrant coral colored petal wasn’t quite the case. The conditions aren’t right for what I anticipated. The hibiscus flower blossomed a yellow-orange. Even though the coloring is muted and isn’t right for the plant, I still thought it was pretty and wanted to share it with you.
Though, you may be asking yourself, why is the hibiscus flower in a bag?
Because, appearances can be deceiving.
You’ve been there, that spot where something is shiny and bright, and you’re intrigued. Whether you’re catching a glimpse of something extraordinary or focusing on something that sparks an immediate interest, you want it. It’s exciting and captivating and always memorable. But, what happens when the sheen wears off? Or worse? What happens when you uncover something unsavory? Something toxic? A potential poison?
With that hibiscus blossom, I uncovered what I was waiting for. The days of waiting had been slightly irritating, because I thought it was taking too long. I kept thinking it should have happened by now. Right? Was I missing something? Had I treated the plant incorrectly? But, I got my answer, during morning watering. The bloom pushed through the green covering it and I felt triumphant that I was able to grow a plant in less than ideal conditions…that is, until I inspected it closer. There were a few spots on the leaves and, as I turned the pot to get a better view, I was met with a surprise.
A poison lurked underneath.
Maybe you thought it was something lovely, but found it to be untrue…whether it’s within a thing, situation, person or inside yourself. And, you question if it’s worth it. Have you ever had the unexpected unfold? Maybe you thought everything was good and life was going well, until something unpleasant developed.
Beneath the colored petals, a silent killer lied in wait – one that promised what was sure to be a slow death, instead of a rapid demise. The underside of the petals was playing host to a family of aphids. While I don’t believe aphids are harmful to people, the minuscule creatures leave behind a residue (the spots), called honeydew, which coats the leaves in a sticky substance. Eventually, it will kill off the entire plant. And, it spreads to other greenery, when there is no longer a food source in its current location.
So, I took the easiest course of action. After admiring the pretty petals for a moment, I grabbed the shears and clipped the piece where the offenders made their home.
Have you ever had to cut away something that was potentially harmful?
While disappointed, I knew it had to be done. More of a burden, than a blessing, my new bloom wasn’t that luxurious after all. It was pretty to look at, but would have been a terror to treat if left unattended.
Then, I inspected the nearby plants…only to realize the poison traveled.
I had to clip down another plant, which was directly beside it. Later, I’ll spray the plants with something, to ensure there is no further contamination. I don’t want to think about aphids infesting every plant. I just… No.
I learned a great lesson, applicable to other areas of life. So often, we’re distracted by shiny, new, surprising or improved that we don’t pay attention to the details. We allow ourselves to be blinded from the warning signs, because we want the beauty. We all want beauty in our lives, but sometimes, we get distracted by the sparkle and do not see the harm that’s underneath. Because, we think it’s the best.
But that which is toxic has the capacity to infiltrate other areas of our lives. Had I ignored a small, shiny speck on the leaf, my aphid issue may have snowballed into something far more problematic.
Just because something is pretty on the surface, doesn’t meant there isn’t poison sleeping nearby. And, if you don’t look closely, if you don’t realize it, you may have a bigger issue on your hands than you could have ever imagined. Here you were, thinking you were getting one thing, then you discover what lies beneath could infect your entire life.
Truthfully, I hope you retain a certain clarity when you find beauty and that it really is everything you imagined it would be.
Just don’t be afraid to do a little pruning, if it’s not.
What in your life may be pretty to look at? Are there any limits you have come to accept, based from the outward appearance? Are they real or are they a poison that will spread, if left unattended?
What can you learn from removing the toxicity?
You’ll learn that you deserve the beautiful, instead of the pretty. You’ll learn that you deserve something else, than the limits placed on you. You are bigger than that situation. You are the bloom, not the invasive bug clinging to the side of the soft petal. You deserve more than to deal with the shiny spot on the surface of the leaf.
Acknowledging limitations or recognizing toxicity and growing from it is tricky. But do you know what else it’s called? Being human.
We all get in spots we never thought we’d be. We all have had moments where we thought that happens to others, but not us. However in some way, shape or form, it can. Unfortunately, it does. But, it doesn’t make you any less of a person.
And, here’s the amazing part…It can make you stronger, if you allow it. You have the capacity to grow, because now you recognize the warning signs. A spot on a leaf won’t mean an aphid invasion. Now, you see through the mask of sparkle, pretty, new. You’ll find beautiful, because you’ll recognize true beauty…not simply what you want to see and ignoring the details in plain sight.
You’ll find the vibrant blossom, that vivid personality, that pure and beautiful thing you’ve been searching for and it will be true. Because now you know what toxic looks like.
Once you see the truth and embrace it, you will thrive and life – oh, life! – will be amazing. Open your eyes to the truth, receive the beauty, and run with it, friend. If you’re unsure or if it seems too big to do alone, talk to someone. They may even be willing to help. (My husband told me what to spray on the plant, to clear any lingering aphids.) Just know that you are not alone.
You are worth it.
You are more.
Now, grab your gumption to clip off the “pretty” toxic and drive toward something truly beautiful.
You got this!