Bob Makransky's Magical Sampler
What We Can Learn From Plants
This young woman knew that she would die in the next few
days. But when I talked to her she was cheerful in spite of this
knowledge. “I am grateful that fate has hit me so hard,” she
told me. “In my former life I was spoiled and did not take
spiritual accomplishments seriously.” Pointing through the
window of the hut, she said, “This tree here is the only friend
I have in my loneliness.” Through that window she could see
just one branch of a chestnut tree, and on the branch were two
blossoms. “I often talk to this tree,” she said to me. I was
startled and didn’t quite know how to take her words. Was she
delirious? Did she have occasional hallucinations? Anxiously
I asked her if the tree replied. “Yes.” What did it say to her?
She answered, “It said to me, ‘I am here – I am here – I am
Life, eternal life.’”
- Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
What we can learn from plants is how to be joyous. We can’t learn that from other
people, usually, because the setup with other people isn’t to be joyous; on the contrary, it
is to be fearful, close-hearted, and uptight. Therefore, to learn to be joyous, we have to
go to the plants. If we can first learn to be joyous from the plants – who aren’t out to
cause us grief – we can then learn to be joyous with our fellow humans.
Of course, the joy we receive from plants doesn’t have all the ego zing of a sexy
partner, or a mother’s approval, or the boss’s congratulations; but it’s always there.
That’s the nice thing. No matter how horribly our lives are going, or how much rejection
other people heap upon us, the plants are always there being happy.
At a nearby airport there is a hedge in front of the entrance for departing
passengers, and when the wind blows across the hedge the shrubs wave “Bye-bye! Bon
Voyage! Feliz Viaje!” to all the passengers. Nobody pays any attention to them, but the
plants don’t care. They don’t need people’s acknowledgment and validation to be happy.
They’re just there, pouring love out into the world. That’s their job, and the people
passing by receive that love whether they’re consciously aware of it or not.
The plants are what keep this from being a hell world. There are no plants in a
hell world. The plants in this world are not just the bottom of the food chain; they’re
anchoring all of us uptight animals to the earth’s love. They aren’t just the source of all
our oxygen; they’re the source of all our joy. They just sit there casting joy out all over
What we can learn from plants is that there is love surrounding us all the time,
every minute, had we but the wit to see it, feel it. We are being offered love all the time,
but we reject it because we don’t understand that’s what love is. We think love should be
zappier, instead of quiet and peaceful and waving in the wind.
The love which plants offer us – the sound of leaves rustling, the smell of pine
needles – is all there is. This is not a poetic metaphor: it’s a cold, hard fact of life. If we