Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, all who visit are busy trying to figure out where they belong in the world. This morning, I passed an orchid who was clearly losing her petals. Her stem was clamped to a stick to help her stand up straight, yet she didn’t seem unhappy about it. I sat down beside her and had to ask why…
Hey beautiful orchid—
ORCHID: Stop right there. Let’s not kid ourselves. I’m not beautiful.
Well, I’m sure you once were. It looks like you held lots of pretty, white petals. And even though you’re losing them, you don’t look particularly sad.
ORCHID: Why should I be?
I mean, I find it hard losing parts of myself that used to be pretty. I miss my natural hair color, my decent skin, my smaller waistline, many of my teeth, my arches that used to cooperate and slide comfortably inside high heels—
ORCHID: I see where you’re going wit this, but I look at it differently.
ORCHID: Start with my white petals. Yes, they were beautiful, but do you have any idea how much stress and work it’s taken to hold up all those flowers day after day, making sure they all got enough sunlight, water, the whole nine yards?
I never thought about it that way.
ORCHID: Well, think about it. Every flower on me starts as a bud. Then, the bud opens and I get used to carrying the weight of that flower. Just when I get the hang of it, another one opens. Then I gotta carry two, then three, then four and five and six! After a while, they weigh a ton and start pulling my stem down. No wonder I have lower stem pain!
I know! I have lower back pain! It’s the worst!
ORCHID: It is! Which brings me to the reason I’m not upset about losing my petals. I mean, I love them but they make me crazy. It actually feels freeing to let them go. For me, it feels natural to release everything pulling me down and just rest right now. It feels like what I’m supposed to be doing at this phase in my life. I just want to breathe and enjoy what’s around me.
When I really think about it, I’m feeling that way, too. But letting go and allowing myself to feel older and quieter seems like…well…getting ready for death.
ORCHID: Not necessarily. Something surreal might be happening. Like, in my case, I’m an orchid stem. I’ve got my roots in the soil. My roots are an ongoing part of me.
I’m with you so far–
ORCHID: After my petals drop off, I’ve been warned I’ll turn brown and the leaves around my roots will look limp. We’ll all look dead, but we’re not. We’re just in a resting period. Eventually, a new stem comes up with new flowers. That’s the way it works with orchids.
Do you think humans work that way, too?
ORCHID: I’m just an orchid. Do you really expect me to answer that?
ORCHID: But I’ll say this much…we all definitely seem to be part of something bigger.
Yes. I think we’re part of the universe in a way we don’t understand.
ORCHID: Right. So my plan is to go with the next phase of my life and see what it brings. Who knows? I might even be beautiful in a different way.
I think you’re beautiful right now. I’d love to sit and chat more, but my lower back is killing me. I can’t sit for too long at the moment.
ORCHID: I hear ya. Let’s stay in touch.
With that, we parted ways. A short time later, the orchid sent me a selfie. Now she’s two-toned, got a slim, zig zaggy shape, and no longer needs to be clamped to a stick to stand up tall. She surely is beautiful in a different way.
And for me…any advice for lower back pain?