Monday, January 30, 2012

The Rose vs. The Sunflower

With St. Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I’ve noticed an increase of angst. Valentine’s Day is a brilliant marketing idea that took a little legend and turned it into a celebration of guilt. It should really be called “I Listened To The Hype And Got Shamed Into Buying You a Bunch of Roses Day”. Suddenly, people run around making all kinds of elaborate displays of affection for their beloved. It always struck me as silly because if you have someone in your life you love, shouldn’t every day be an opportunity to shower them with affection? Why would you need a day marked on a calendar?

Then there is the usual symbol for love and Valentine’s Day, the red rose.

“My love is like a red red rose” – Robert Burns

But I think about it and find that if you really look at a rose, it’s true charm and attraction is its incipient symbol for expectation. Have you ever seen a rose when it is just a green polyp on the end of a bush? It has a lovely shape, then slowly the green leaf starts to unfurl and the flower petals are unveiled. It is a study of contrasts; the green against the red. The petal has a similarity to pursed lips. Perhaps that’s why it is such a symbol for romantic love.
Then as it blossoms, the petals unfurl but there is a point when it becomes past its bloom. The petals fall like tears and the ground looks like it’s covered with broken hearts. There is nothing as sad as a dead rose, its head bent, broken and bald.

I like to think as love more in keeping with a sunflower. A sunflower grows tall and proud, I’ve seen them as tall as 7 feet, their proud faces straining at the sky as if they could, they would fly up and disappear into the sun.

Which leads me to this poem by Thomas Moore:

Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly today,
Were to change by tomorrow and fleet in my arms,
Like fairy wings fading away
Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will;
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself fervently still.
It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear,
That the fervor and faith of a soul can be known,
To which time will but make thee more dear.
No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close:
As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets
The same look which she turned when he rose.

“As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets…” That’s a great line, because whosoever captures my heart, will capture it completely. It strains to fly, as love should fly. When it dies, its petals whither, the head drops forlornly, but it still stands. Yes, I’ve simplified it, but love shouldn’t be complicated. Love should be easy and simple. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012


It’s been a very lazy weekend for me, so I surfed the channels and found myself caught up in the movie “The Day The Earth Stood Still” with Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly. The basic plot is that an alien, (Reeves) lands on Earth, to make the final determination of whether he will destroy the human species.

If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives. There are only a handful of planets in the cosmos that are capable of supporting complex life...” - Klaatu

Seeing that the immediate reaction to his arrival brings a very strong military response, the world panics and looting begins, he decides it’s time to pull the plug. The hostilities toward the unknown is mirrored in the response of Jacob Benson(Jaden Smith), Jennifer Connelly’s son. The boy wants to just kill the aliens. But the decision is changed when Klaatu sees the other side of humans. Our ability to empathize and the possibility of changing our self-destructive behavior, convinces Klaatu to stop the destruction to the species.

“There's another side to you. I feel it now.” - Klaatu

Then I watched the movie “The Help”. This isn’t my review of these two movies; it’s simply my observations of what each movie says about us.

“The Help” takes place during the turbulent 60s in Mississippi when, segregation was institutionalized and ingrained. Threaded through the personal stories of the characters are historical references to the civil rights movement. At one point a character says to the lead to hurry up and write her story before the whole civil rights movement blows over. They refer to Martin Luther King’s call to march on Washington and the killing of Medgar Evers.

The movie was brilliant as was the story it told. It was not preachy; it had its funny and profound moments. It was a peek into a world that has hopefully disappeared forever.

As I watched the end credits of “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, a simplified hope that man can change its self-destructive ways, I looked at it with a personal meaning. I wondered if I could change my own self-destructive behavior. Will it need a life-threatening situation before I do the right things or will I just devolve into a meaningless slug? Or could I even change?

Then as I watched the end credits of “The Help” it dawned on me that the 60s really wasn’t that long ago, given the grand scheme of things. So if an entire nation can change, I can change myself to be the person I want to be, the person I know I can be and be proud of myself.