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Concrete Wall
  • Writer's pictureNatalie Brianne

Patience is a Virtue: One I'm Still Working On

Just over a year ago, I found out I had ADHD. It wasn't a shock, necessarily. After all, each and every one of the symptoms lined up quite well. But it did make me question all of my struggles over the years. Each and every time that I thought I was lazy when it could have been an issue with executive function.

For instance, my lack of follow-through on certain projects. When I was younger, I often started things and didn't finish them. When I was eight, I received a Strawberry Shortcake gardening book and I was determined that I was going to have a garden. My mom gave me a little corner area. I bought some plants. Planted them, watered them, and promptly let the weeds take over. Without fail, each year that I had the gumption, I would plant a little garden, fawn over the little flowers, and then forget them entirely.

It was quite frustrating, because I did want a garden. But I would get preoccupied with other things and forget about it.

I love plants, but I've always had a hard time keeping them alive. From the bamboo plant that I turned into a cactus with how little I watered it, to the basil plants that would be neglected on the kitchen sill, plants and I just have a hard time.

Last year, just after I found out about the ADHD, I decided to get myself an amaryllis plant. This was partially because in my family we would often get an amaryllis from the family seed and garden store, enjoy it during the winter months, and be done with it. I was under the assumption that amaryllis bulbs simply die at the end of the winter because of this practice. And so it would be the perfect plant for me! It would get me some greenery in the cold winter months, I'd remember to water it while the flowers were blooming because it is pretty, and I would feel no remorse in its death at the end of winter because that's what amaryllis bulbs do! Brilliant.

Except, it wasn't. When I went to pot my little amaryllis bulb with the flower bud ready to burst forth, I had a bit of a hard time getting the bulb to sit right within the pot. It was a small mouthed little thing, and the flower bud was drooping over the side of the bulb. As I tried to center it, the flower bulb snapped.

"That's alright," I told myself. "It will grow a new one."

I told my mom about it that night. And she reluctantly explained that an amaryllis bulb only flowers once a year. It takes all of the energy from the leaves for an ENTIRE YEAR to grow that little flower. And that's it.

I was devastated. I hadn't had the bulb for 24 hours and I had killed it. I was a plant murderer.

After some research I discovered that amaryllis bulbs can be kept alive all year if you are good about watering them. It would only produce leaves, but in the fall you can cut the leaves down to the bulb, put it in a cool, dry place for 6 weeks, and then water it again. If you do it properly, the bulb will flower again.

But this meant I had to keep a plant alive for a year. And with my track record, how could I ever succeed?

Plants aren't like other things in life. They don't tell you what they need. They don't meow at you until you feed them. They don't send you emails asking about the deadline. They just die.

I was determined that this time would be different. This time I would remember to water it. THIS TIME I WOULD KEEP IT ALIVE.

And you know what? I did. I have no idea how I managed it, but I kept that plant alive for an entire year. I put it in a cool, dry place for a few weeks, and then started watering it again.

I was so excited when it started to grow again! Those little leaves shooting off brought me such joy! But for weeks, it was only leaves. Had I ruined it just by my proximity? Would it never grow a flower pod again?

Yesterday, I discovered a little flower shoot developing on the side of the leaves. I can't even begin to describe the relief I felt. And then there was the gratification of accomplishment. Despite my horrible history with plants, I had done it.

It still hasn't bloomed, but I have every hope that it will. And in the meantime I shall enjoy the beautiful greenery that is brightening my February.

There's probably a moral here somewhere.

Perhaps that there are plenty of things in life that take work and patience, but in the end it is worth it.

Or maybe that instant gratification can't compare to the long and slow game of accomplishment.

In any case, I hope that you are watering the amaryllis bulbs in your life. Whether that be a long term project that you've been working on, the process of healing, or those little goals that are helping to make you a better person, I hope you succeed!

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