A Place For Growing

April 11, 2010
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At the tender, curious age of three, I inadvertently made the profound decision to investigate one of the most controversial, abstruse dilemmas of all time: the origins of mankind. However, being a rather egocentric creature, as most three-year-olds are, when I inquired about the beginnings of humanity at the Yuletide table, what I really meant was the beginnings of my humanity. To be fair, the question was inspired by someone other than myself, namely the baby Jesus whose nativity had erected a heap of confusion in my budding mind. Not only was the exact relationship between this swaddled newborn and Santa Clause still unclear to me, but the precise method by which a new human life entered the world was an utter mystery as well. Therefore, to quell my inquisitiveness, when the conversation reached a lull just before the entrance of the dessert, I demanded frankly and quite bluntly, “Where do I come from?” My aunt, always eager to veer away from philosophical questions such as these to more favorable topics like the upcoming centennial Olympic games, which were to be hosted in “purdy, little” Atlanta, Georgia, Aunt Jo’s home city, replied simply, “from your parents, dear.” Entirely unfulfilled by such a banal answer, I immediately diverted my attention to my grandmother, a senescent woman to whom I entrusted my entire world, and subjected her to the same inquiry. After a moment of careful speculation, my grandmother, who, I discovered later in life, was a fervent Nathaniel Hawthorne aficionado, replied, “You were plucked off a rosebush.” I paused briefly, considering the explanation. If I was indeed snatched from a rosebush, as my slightly batty grandmother had suggested, did this mean that I was not a child, but a flower? The epiphany startled me, so, consequently, I confronted my grandmother about the matter. She replied to my query just as magnificently as before, saying, “Why of course you are, darling! Undoubtedly, you are a rosebud on the brink of blossom!” Naturally, being a verdant child, I didn’t understand the implied metaphor inherent in this statement and instead believed, for the better part of three months, that I was in fact an infant rose. Therefore, I exited the dining room in a fanciful frenzy of youthful imagination and set off to fashion a garden where I could mature properly into floral adulthood.

Knowing that flowers need tremendous amounts of sunlight and warmth, I commenced construction by opening every window in my living room to the winter air, hoping to let in some light. However, the frigid New England chill produced a less desirable result than anticipated and nearly cut my petals to the core like a sickle. Immediately shutting out the malicious wind, I opted instead to illuminate a nearby lamp and found that its light, combined with the warmth of the burning Yule log, provided the necessary conditions for suitable growth. Realizing the additional need for adequate soil, I gathered up my cozy green blanket from my bed and sacrificed it for the cause. Finally, after sprinkling a bit of water on my head in an almost baptismal fashion, I sat cross-legged in my lush garden, ready to begin growing.
For what seemed like eons, I waited in a near-meditative trance, determined not to move a muscle for fear of sprouting irregularly. As I closed my eyes, I could feel my roots penetrating the folds of the plush blanket, reaching downwards into the leafy carpet, and finally sinking into the wood floor. My stem was elongating as high as the bean stalk in the fairytale my mother read me just the night before and with its growth came the germination of a multitude of leaves, as green as a praying mantis perched placidly in the spring grass. When night sky began its lithe dance with the light of dawn, drops of dew like scintillating emeralds were conceived on beds of teeming foliage, and, as the first beam of sunlight shot through the clouds of Aurora, I felt my petals surge upwards in a sure state of irreversible ascension. A dazzling blossom of pink hue poured outwards from my brain, its color rivaling that of the glaring sun mounting from the west. I had blossomed, and every living creature was mirroring me in a spectacular testament to the beauty of reflection. The air was saturated with the redolence of revival and the entire garden was breathing it in. Crocuses and insects emanated from the rich soil at astonishing rates while birds of radiant plumage emerged from every corner of the sky. Triumphant hymns of resurrection sang out joyously as a sugar plum tree bearing the fruits of childhood laced with the seeds of maturation rose from the earth. Then, I opened my eyes.
I was shocked by the sight before me; everything around me was disagreeably familiar to an obscene degree. The drab, barren carpet created a fruitless wasteland that seemed to profane every iota of vibrancy and vivacity inherent within my sleepless vision. The fire of the Yuletide log had drifted into a comatose state, leaving only the dying hearts of ashes slowly drifting towards mortality. The shadows of midnight cast suffocating curtains of darkness across the dimly lit room as icicles clashed like infantry against the windowpane. Each clash resonated eerily through the empty spaces like morbid bells tolling sounds of sorrow while the air seemed drenched with foreboding. I looked down upon my body, disheartened by its painful banality. Nothing had blossomed at all; it had only been a spiteful trick played elusively on my mind. Terribly disappointed by my lack of growth, I dragged my withered roots back to my grandmother. Looking at her with a face on the brink of woe, I informed her that I had not been meant to blossom at all. When asked why I had suddenly lost so much faith, I cited the fact that I had been sitting in my garden for a temporary eternity and had not seen so much as one new leaf. I lamented my current situation, all the while complaining of a headache from concentrating too hard. Upon hearing the totality of these gripes and grievances, my grandmother sighed forcefully and looked off into the distance, as though consulting with some unknown universal forces at work here. Appearing somewhat reconciled after a moment, my grandmother smiled and looked into a reflection of her own blue eyes. “When you are done growing,” she said meaningfully, “it’s over.” And with that, I returned to my garden, not with the intention of terminating my growth, but with the intention of blossoming forever.
For the next thirteen years, I would spend many an afternoon in my garden, huddled up in that same green blanket, reading, thinking, or simply letting the silence sink into me. Hours pass by like the seconds of infinity there and the nature of time itself appears more absurd than a tree bearing candied fruit or a giant bean stalk growing from a tiny seed. The sound of neglect is replaced by the lullabies of birdsongs and for every insult, a new flower blooms in that bountiful earth. It is a place that does not need reality or severity or even a reason why; it does not demand or command or delegate or abdicate, but wholly alleviates the onus of one’s soul. It does not terminate growth, but rejuvenates it.

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songofheaven said...
Apr. 21, 2010 at 9:09 pm
This is a very beautiful piece of writing. I think it describes the coming-of-age process for a lot of people, in a metaphor-form. I would suggest this as a SAT study tool, too! There are a lot of good words to know in here. Great article!
AKruk This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 21, 2010 at 11:04 pm
Thank you so much!
songofheaven replied...
Apr. 22, 2010 at 6:16 pm
Your welcome! I really loved it. :)
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