I absolutely love my jade plant.
I don’t know why. It’s irrational. It’s just a plant, and quite honestly I’m not very attached to the other vegetation in my house. But my jade plant is special. I love the shiny green colour of its leaves, the way a small leaf that breaks off can grow into a whole new plant. I love the way it looks like a tiny, sprawling tree. In fact, some people call it the ‘money tree’, and okay maybe a small part of me secretly wants to believe that it metaphorically embodies my ‘wealth’ and that one day it will grow tall like Jack’s beanstalk… But I don’t actually think that’s what is going to happen! 🙂
It seems I’m not alone in my irrational, unrequited love for my jade plant. In an interview on NPR, Toni Morrison recently revealed that “the one thing I’m obsessive about is jade” and that when her house burnt down in 1993 “I lost manuscripts and books and some other things, but the hurt was [my sons’] report cards and the hurt was the jade bush”.
My jade plant is about 15 years old now. It has travelled with me across the country, east to west, then south to north to south again. It has been shifted near windows, into hallways, and onto corner shelves in about seven or eight different houses. So maybe there is also something I love about the continuity it embodies over a time of vast change in my life.
But then I was walking past my beloved jade plant yesterday and I noticed…it was DUSTY. I am not talking about a little dust. I mean, every leaf was literally coated in a thick layer of dust. And I thought, if I love this thing so much, why aren’t I taking better care of it? How can I expect something to grow when it’s been relegated to the sidelines of my life and I’m doing less than the bare minimum to nurture it?!
So that is how I found myself at nine-thirty at night standing in my hallway, dusting my jade plant. Leaf by leaf.
And all that dust made me think, what else in my life do I think of as ‘important’ and at the same time completely fail to nurture? For a long time, my novel would have fallen into that category. Because as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a novelist. And after one unsuccessful attempt and a bit more training in the craft, I sat down and wrote a novel that I love. Then I made various attempts to find a traditional publisher, get an agent etc. etc. and then I had my children and my beloved novel got sidelined. And just like my jade plant, it began to gather dust.
Recently I’ve come through the rabbit hole that is the early years of parenting, and I looked out into the sunshine and remembered myself. I remembered the many things (besides my children and husband) that I also love and want to ‘dust off’ and put more energy into. One of them has been my novel which is coming out at the end of the month (fingers crossed). Hopefully it is only the beginning…
What is ‘that thing’ you love that’s gotten relegated to the corner and is gathering dust? I love hearing from you (and knowing I’m not alone!)