In a time of grief, I’d like to think about happy things.
And one thing that makes me happy, is flowers.
When I still lived in the Netherlands, I would buy fresh cut flowers every week and fill vases in my house. Flowers on the market would be as cheap as two bouquets for 5 euros, so needless to say, when I moved to Maine I stopped buying flowers. I just refuse to pay $15 for a sad looking bunch of tulips that would last me less than 4 days.
And I need happy right now.
I just cancelled our trip to Paris. Partly because of persisting ISIS threats, but mostly because of FIFA. That’s right, soccer supporters are ruining my family trip. We weren’t aware that the finals of the European Football Championship coincided with our weekend in Paris. And I don’t need tension, aggression and fear in my vacation.
And now there has been another mass shooting. As if the shooting wasn’t enough, I feel extremely appalled by the hatred that followed. Hatred between political figures, pointing fingers when facts aren’t even clear, ‘friends’ on Facebook posting opinions that make me cringe, causing hatred among people that travel in the same social media circles, emotional discussions about pro or anti-gun control, sheep coating Islam as religion for all the anger, while millions of people around the world are forced to flee their homes and stuck somewhere in Europe or worse, on a lifeboat, very unsure about their future.
Everything I learned as a child, and everything I taught my students and my children about being tolerant towards each other, that hitting back isn’t an option, that we need to use our words to solve conflict, that we need to treat people the way we would like to be treated, none of this seems applicable anymore in this crazy world.
How can I, just one person, make this world a little bit more beautiful, more loving? Those questions bother me. And so I reach out to the one thing that makes me happy: flowers.
And my daughter and I snuggle on the cough and I read a book to her, although she knows it so well and is perfectly capable of reading it herself.
We read the book over and over and she talks about collecting and spreading the seeds, just like Miss Rumphius did and together we make a plan.
And we know that we have the wind and the birds to help us.
Next year around this time, there will be even more lupines in our neighborhood, in our street and the following year even more. We will continue, year after year: making the world a little bit more beautiful, one flower at the time.