I’ve been accused of being a hippy before.
It may be a valid point. But I’m not sure what it means. But if I start talking romantically about flowers, then I’ll certainly not do anything to assuage this reputation.
But of course, I’m not sure if I care (beyond an oddly disclaimeresque introductory paragraph).
When someone says flowers my first thought is often of hippies putting flowers in the barrel of a gun. The romantic pointless optimism of believing that beauty and simplicity can overcome violent systems of oppression.
And then I think of colourful fields, and my hope increases.
Flowers support each other. Ecosystems are systems, made up of various parts that fill niches and so support the overall system. I somehow doubt that flowers feel affection deep in their phloem and xylem. I doubt they tingle from root to petal when faced with a particularly pretty flower.
But I don’t know.
I’m kind of torn by an odd tug between distrust of anthropomorphism and a drive for empathy.
It’s probably going to sound ridiculous, but I think it’s dangerous to assume that the experience of other entities is the same as our own. It’s a closemindedness that allows a fixation on the selfish perspectives of the self. Even with flowers, it would be unfair to assume some kind of humanistic point of view. Just as much as with other people if you go about assuming everyone thinks about everything the same way you do, then everyone will think you’re a wanker. And you will be.
But then, without empathy, people become cold and hard. And it’s hard to see things from another point of view if you can’t imagine it. And it’s easier to imagine it with a little bit of projection. ‘What would I do in that situation?’; ‘How would I feel if I were a flower?’.
Of course, I’m creating a false dichotomy. True empathy is about shedding a lot of preconceptions more than just putting yourself in another pair of shoes. It’s probably still trickier to empathise with a vegetable, even if it has a pretty flower.
Suddenly I’m reminded of Kimya. In particular the cactus with sharp spines like knives that offers the snake an eye hug of its flower.
If cacti think like that (or rather, fish wishing they could be cacti, obviously) then maybe it’s all going to be okay.
Hug my flower with your eyes. I can’t decide if that’s romantic or not.
Which is a shame, because it’s only a dirty mind getting in the way.
So what have we learnt?
Not a lot. But we know some things we knew at the start. Flowers are pretty (and smell nice). So are other things (including cacti, snakes, fish and occasionally people). I’m a bit of a hippy, and possibly a lot of a hippy. You can’t fight guns with flowers but you should probably try.
And you might want to ask the flower’s permission first.
Just in case.
Illustration by Adam.