“The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily
do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm.
If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.”
― Thérèse de Lisieux
Do you like to keep things simple or do you prefer it when they’re complicated?
Is this a simple question or a complicated one…
and will your answer be simple or complicated?
I suppose some of it depends on your personal definition of those words, what they mean to you…
a simple word can cause complications in communication due to it being used differently by different people…
both words have negative connotations,
and people sometimes use them as a criticism of others… and of themselves.
I sometimes complicate life for myself,
it’s an old habit which started once upon a time…
I grew up in a reality created by others which was anything but simple,
the slightest thing could be turned into a three-ring circus with more than one ringmaster…
And I do mean the slightest thing.
“What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon?” cried Daisy, “and the day after that, and the next thirty years?”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald
An incident which still haunts me…
(due to its absurdity and also the lesson it is still teaching me)…
I was about nine years old, my mother had taken me to have lunch at my favourite place, The Moon Bar,
(it was also a diner)
which had a magnificent night sky painted on the ceiling. I was excited to be there… I just adored that ceiling (in a way that perhaps we’re not supposed to love ceilings)!
In my excitement I forgot who I was with… but not for long, just long enough to be more myself than usual.
As I was about to enjoy a meal of a juicy hamburger, my mother suddenly shouted thunder at me.
The world stopped, and all eyes looked aghast at me and my wrongness.
I was confused, stunned, and simply certain that I hadn’t done anything to warrant her furious reaction.
(I’d made that kind of mistake before… being simply certain was often the cause of complicated consequences)
My mind raced to find what grievous crime I’d committed
(because, of course, my mother wasn’t going to tell me what it was, she preferred to keep that kind of information withheld to maintain her status of supreme being and so that simple things would be negatively complicated for dramatic effect)
rewinding and repeating the minutes, looking for the slightest detail out of place.
Everything had seemed fine only seconds before… what could I have done!?!
“Dear Diary, Today I tried not to think about Mr. Knightly. I tried not to think about him when I discussed the menu with Cook… I tried not to think about him in the garden where I thrice plucked the petals off a daisy to acertain his feelings for Harriet. I don’t think we should keep daisies in the garden, they really are a drab little flower. And I tried not to think about him when I went to bed, but something had to be done.”
― Jane Austen
As I tried to figure it out, my body
(which somehow had not lost its appetite, was still focused on the juicy burger and its desire to eat it)
answered my question,
it did something which again incurred my mother’s storming wrath.
But my mind was still perplexed, and in a bit of a panic at that point, as much as it rifled through the droplets in the flood it could not see what the body had done which was causing vicious hail stones to pelt me.
It admitted defeat and…
“What did I do?” I asked my mother.
Probably not the smartest question to ask someone who was shuddering with pious rage, expecting the sinner to know what they had done, and to repent before being banished to hell, but I… really wanted to know the answer and I thought I’d take the simple and direct route to get it… then perhaps I could instruct my body to stop doing whatever it was.
My mother glared at me with the kind of righteous indignation that could freeze and wither Mr. Frost himself. But that would not have done her much good, and it wasn’t doing her any good with me either. I simply did not have a clue what it was that I was doing which was so awful, and the guessing game could go on forever because pretty much everything about me could be the problem.
Was a hair on my arm a little too long? Did I breathe in too much air? Did my nose cast an awkward shadow? Had my eyes glinted in an offensive manner? Was my earlobe drooping?
I hadn’t started eating yet or that would have been the most likely option as the answer to my mother’s freezing fury – my mother particularly disliked the way people ate… with their mouths… chewing… disgusting!
picker of buttercups
And the big bullying daisies
through the field wonderful
with eyes a little sorry
also picking flowers”
― E.E. Cummings
As it turned out,
once my mother got off of her impossibly high horse to condescend and inform me of my heinous deed,
it was my mouth and eating tendencies which had got me into this latest complication.
I had apparently licked the rim of the ketchup bottle…
I’d done it twice…
TWICE!!! My mother’s head almost (pity it was only almost) exploded because my tongue rolled a double…
so there was no ‘apparently’ about it…
I had to agree that this was rather disgusting behaviour
(perfectly fine, in my view, if that ketchup was mine and at home, but…
as this was a public bottle and others would be using this ketchup, they really did not need my saliva (and its dancing germs) added to their meal).
The worst of it was that I had been oblivious to what I had done. It was a reflex… a tidy one (there was a drip on the ketchup rim and had I left it, when it dried, it would have glued the top to the bottle – so I was being disgustingly considerate, maybe) which had caused chaos.
that was that,
and had my mother chosen the simple option and told me immediately what I had done
(in a reasonable tone which didn’t need the whole diner to hear about it…)
I would have corrected myself and further complications, traumatic to my poor mother’s sense of propriety, could have been avoided.
This ketchup-licking crime flavoured the rest of the day with a heavy cloud of crimson…
and went into my inner annals in a special section where I keep things that are odd and need to be remembered
(if only because they are odd, but mostly because there are many lessons held within them)
alongside the time I was woken up by a seething pot of mother boiling to be accused of smelling of candy floss… which she could not abide… but it was actually the building which was on fire.
“Do you ever feel like running away?”
“Of course… Sometimes I feel like I want to run away from everything.”
“I remember having that feeling once when I was at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm… I climbed over the fence, but I was still in the world!”
― Charles M. Schulz
The daisy in the photo above is a hardy little flower which for some reason is still flowering even though it’s Winter and it has been covered in snow, flooded and frozen.
I imagine it singing this song to itself…