Fresh flowers have been adorning our therapy room this summer.
It’s actually funny- I used to dread changing the centerpiece on the coffee table in my therapy room because inevitably I would have six or seven conversations about it that day. “What happened to the sand tray?” “Something is different in here.” Haha. It’s no big deal, we connect about the thing that’s changed and we move onto the important work.
But this summer, I decided I was going to bring fresh flowers every week. It’s a thing I care about personally. Life’s too short to not buy flowers…. but it’s been such a cool experience to do in the office every week. I’ve loved it. I’ve loved the conversations it’s stemmed. I’ve loved that we can appreciate beauty as we touch on hard things in my client’s lives. And sure, I’ve loved the variety it brings to viewpoints each week as I enjoy them.
Leave it to me to make a metaphor out of flowers, but I wanted to share about the metaphor I’ve been thinking about them with. Albeit somewhat morbid (per my clients), I think it’s been valuable.
So much about life is learning how to let go. So much about therapy is about learning how to let go gracefully of the things we need to, and figuring out how to work and hold on things that we want to as well.
The flowers are beautiful. They provide joy and beauty to the world around us. Nothing bad about them in my opinion. And yet, and as I’ve reflected on with my clients when we talk about these flowers on the table, as beautiful as they are, they are actively dying. The second their stems were cut, they began to die. This is just the truth. (Pause for Dr. Morel’s surprisingly depressing thought).
Our perspective on them might be, “buying fresh flowers is dumb they die really fast. Why would I spend 15 bucks on something that’s only gonna last a few days?” Valid thought, OK.
But here’s the reframe. Our perspective on these flowers is still up to us and the value we place on being able to enjoy them in this moment. Sure we agree that they’re actively dying. Right. They won’t be here forever. So, I get to make a choice today about if I enjoy them, if I appreciate what they are, if I allow them to brighten my day. And I also can accept the fact that they don’t have to last forever, to be valuable, meaningful, worthwhile. I don’t have to be sad when their life is over, or angry they didn’t stay fresh longer, because I enjoyed it for what it was. I don’t have to focus only on their inevitable death, I can enjoy their life.
That’s mindfulness. That’s acceptance. That’s allowing ourselves to appreciate what we can and find gratitude in small moments. And that’s also letting things go when we need to without frustration or anger or a sense of loss. We’re talking about flowers here, but it’s not hard to see how this applies to so much in our lives.
So, buy the flowers. Let them sit on your table, and let them fill the room. Practice your mindful gratitude for them, and then the mindful release of them when it’s time as you smell the roses of life.
Samantha Morel, Ph.D.