Recently, I was toying with the idea of a book where I take random topics and discuss them, with each chapter dedicated to a new one. It seemed like a fun idea, where I was less constrained to the world of cancer and could simply riff on whatever was on my mind that week. It seemed like a good way to encourage myself to write more, and perhaps diversify what I am talking about. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that it doesn’t really fit into a book, unless I am going to link the topics in some overarching way, which fed into a wider narrative. Then it hit me – just try it out, and throw it onto the blog! What a nice experiment. Let’s see where it takes us…
If you’ve ever purchased flowers, you’ll know that they’re very expensive. Although I can’t justify their price, I can attempt to justify their place in the universe or, more specifically, in your house (occasionally).
As a modern man, I am always traversing the world in pursuit of ways to uplift my plagued soul and bring me some peace of mind. Yoga used to be a mainstay in my wellness diet, but I haven’t gotten the motivation back to test myself in that realm since the operation. Also, and I am not saying that this is definitely true, but I think exercise might actually be bad for me now. A month ago, I finally got myself out and running a few times, as well as going back to the gym and doing some light weight exercises. It felt good, and I was on a roll, going 3 times in 4 days, and feeling pretty smug about it. One of those days was a Friday night. As I walked out of the gym and navigated the main high street in Forest Hill back to my flat, I gleefully passed the hordes of people who were flooding the pavement, outside of the bars. Most of them were obviously intoxicated, shouting through each other and struggling to focus their eyes on one another. One of them shouted at me as I walked past.
“Why’ve you got shorts on? It’s winter!” He said, with a tone of genuine confusion. I acted like I hadn’t heard, but I heard every sad word. Smug to trot, I walked on, feeling pleased with myself. Little did I know that 48 hours later, I’d be back in hospital for 2 days. I asked the surgical team if the issue could have been caused by me going to the gym or trying to run again. He laughed, composed himself, then told me that it wouldn’t have been that and that this will “just happen” sometimes. Not satisfied with this answer, I chose to ignore it, and have diagnosed the issue as ‘exercising’. I won’t be making that mistake again.
Flowers are a common feature in a sick person’s life. In films, you see the main protagonist beaten and bruised in a hospital bed, as a close family member stands at the door of the hospital room looking over them, a sad expression on their face, and armed with a bunch of flowers. Although I detest such stereotypes, they have actually got this one correct. Flowers are incredibly uplifting. They are bright, smell gorgeous, and cost an absolute bomb, which helps to communicate the fact that you must really care about this person to buy them flowers.
If someone shows up to your hospital room with a bunch of flowers in hand, you know they really love you. If they hand you a lousy ‘Get Better’ card, this is confirmation that they actually hate your guts and want you to shrivel up and die, like the tree that was so carelessly killed to make that pointless piece of paper that they wrote a few words on, because it had a pre-printed message which contained more heart and emotion than they could muster in the centuries that they’ve known you. Do you hate trees that much? Trees are useful – stop killing them.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking – “But flowers are also living things which are cut from the wild.” True! But do you know what trees produce and flowers don’t? Oxygen! Ok, they both produce oxygen. But trees (surely) produce more of it! Don’t they? This is actually a terrible argument, let me start this paragraph again.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking – “But flowers are also living things which are cut from the wild.” True! Yeah, that is just true. Cards are actually alright too, but they don’t smell nice.
I’ve grown to enjoy being around flowers a lot more. I used to consider myself mostly indifferent to them. When you have spent time in a hospital room for an extended period, you start to appreciate a bunch of flowers breaking up the white monotony of the space. The scent of them occasionally breaks through the sterile must of disinfectant; you feel like ploughing your face straight into the middle of them – partially because they smell nice, but mostly because you have nothing better to do. Their colours appear more vibrant when you’re high on 15 different types of painkillers, and have IV lines creeping into every part of your body. The bright pinks and warm oranges of the flowers hum to you in a way that the rest of the facility can’t.
Then, there is the power that flowers offer you in terms of a gift. If someone claims that they do not appreciate a delivery man showing up to their door, armed with a big bunch of flowers and a cutesy little message for them, then they are either a psychopath or a demon. Flowers aren’t gender specific, no matter how hard society tries to tell you that they are, and anyone can enjoy receiving or sending them. You can even buy them for yourself, to brighten up your week, or to lighten the load of your heavy bank account.
Flowers also invoke powerful memories. I remember walking the dog with my mum a few years ago. We were walking along a footpath in the village where we moved when I was around 10 years old. I’d walked this path hundreds of times, but my mum told me that she had started walking the dog through a wooded area just off the path. She took me up some steps, fashioned out of small pieces of wood that had been knocked into the mud, and into a farmer’s field, situated on the other side of the verges which the path ran between. I had been aware of these fields, but I seldom walked through them. My friends and I had walked through them once on the way to a friend’s party, but other than that, I didn’t tend to walk this way. Sure enough, we came to a small wooded area. Suddenly we felt miles away from civilisation – bird song echoed out clearly, and the dog ran in large circles away from us, twisting and turning between the trees, having the time of his life. It was beautiful. There were bluebells everywhere on the floor – more than I had ever seen in a single place in my life. I asked my mum what the woods were called. “Bluebell Woods,” she said. Figures. Sometimes, people really do a good job of naming a place; this was one of those places.
I recently sent a friend of mine a bunch of flowers. Despite not being a ‘flower guy’, and never showing any interest in flowers, I thought it was an appropriate thing to do at the time. It was the evening before he was due to have surgery. He appreciated it, and said that it was a nice thing to receive. I did also send him some shortbread with the flowers, so that might have influenced his opinion (I tried one of the shortbreads and they were very good), but I’m sure it was mainly the flowers that he was complimenting. His surgery also went very well – was that the flowers? Probably not. But, maybe? No, that was probably just due to the competence of the surgeon. But…what if the surgeon was bought flowers before the big day too? Yeah, it was almost definitely because of flowers. Flowers make surgery go better too – why not.
So… flowers. They’re colourful, smell beautiful, and cost absolutely loads. Do yourself a favour and get into flowers before you absolutely need to, due to being admitted to hospital, or because you need an operation. The earlier you get into them, the happier you’ll be. Surprise someone you love with them, or surprise somebody you want to love with them. Buy yourself some as you peruse the supermarket after work, on your way home. Buy some for your boss and ask for a promotion. Buy some for your dog, and your sister, and your sister’s dog. Take pictures of them and put them on Instagram, then delete all of your social media and look at your flowers all evening. Flowers smell nice; Instagram just reeks of desperation. Become a flower person and start using the phrase ‘Flower Power’. Name your child after them – Rose, Flora, Alyssa (which means ‘Madness’ in Greek, apparently). Never relent in your love for flowers 💐 🌺 🌼
4 thoughts on “On… Flowers”
I was not expecting a commentary on flower power, but this is something I can get behind. There’s a charity here that will gift cancer patients a dozen or more crocheted flowers for free as a result from the donations they get. I only have a few left, but I was so happy to give my family, friends, and medical team these precious displays that lack the smell and perhaps overall allure of real flowers, but they can be enjoyed eternally!
I’m going to post the link here for those interested in requesting these flowers or just as important, donating to them so they can continue their work:
Keep up the writing! All the best. 💜
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Thank you, Dan. Flowers do mean a lot to people, especially when it’s a gift that’s spontaneous, totally unexpected.
Flowers are part of our church mission. Each week, someone from the congregation puts a bunch of flowers at the front to cheer the place for when the congregation arrives. Later, those flowers will be taken to someone who is ill, feeling down and usually they’re elderly and on their own. The joy on the faces of recipients is amazing.
Keep safe, take care and keep up the writing.
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They are such a lovely surprise!
That is nice – especially as they are then given to someone else in need. What a lovely thing to do.
Hope you’re ok Lynne and thanks for continuing to read xx
That was very uplifting Dan, and true. After spending 2 weeks in hospital 4 years ago, I received a few bunches of flowers and I spent hours just looking at them admiring their lovely colours. They especially cheer you up when you know someone, who lives a long distance away, has put themselves out to buy them and paid a fortune to get them delivered. I’ve still got the pictures, which make me smile every time. Good topic Dan x
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