When I was a kid, my Dad spent every weekend in the garden and his 45 rose bushes were his pride and joy – right after the dichondra lawn. I didn’t seem to notice the thorns as I cut flowers for my Mom or deadheaded old roses per my Dad’s instructions.Once I got out of the habit, my skin seemed so much more sensitive to getting pricked. I began to wear gloves around the garden. I noticed the thorns more.
Abraham Lincoln said: “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
Obviously, Lincoln is focusing on the choices people make in evaluating the world around us. It is a variation on “is the glass half empty or half full.” These views of the world can deeply affect our interpretation of the nature of things. Is it a rose bush or a thorn bush? Are we coming from a sense of appreciation and inclusiveness, or a need to find differences and separate out the “other”?
So how we see the world, or to be less general, how we respond in a situation is likely impacted by our tendencies to focus on certain aspects – the negative, the positive, the ugly, the beautiful, and so on.
The rose bush is not defined/limited by its thorns. That same construct can be applied to other people:
I am not defined by my disease.
I am not defined by my race.
I am not defined by my gender.
I am not defined by my clumsiness, my incompetencies, my aging, my diagnosis.
Like the rose bush, I am both beautiful and thorny.
This week, listen to your own language and interpretation of the people in your life. You might like them a whole lot better if you focus on their roses instead of their thorns.
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