My Proverbs 23
In the United States this week marks the beginning of many families’ Thanksgiving celebrations and the winter holidays’ shopping season. What was an annual harvest celebration of the American Indians became a life-saving dinner invitation to the more newly-arrived travelers from European shores. The gathering of cultures and beliefs gave seed to what would become a new nation. Much more than just eating turkey and shopping at commercial store sales, Thanksgiving symbolizes family, freedom, negotiation, and perspective.
The great artist Andy Warhol once remarked: “Human beings are born solitary, but everywhere they are in chains – daisy chains – of interactivity. Social actions are makeshift forms, often courageous, sometimes ridiculous, always strange. And in a way, every social action is a negotiation, a compromise between ‘his,’ ‘her’ or ‘their’ wish and yours.”
A member of the Asteraceae family, the daisy flower dates back over four thousand years. The names is a combination of two words – day’s and eye, since the flower only stays open during the day. It is sometimes known as the “thunderflower”, reminiscent of the summer season of thunderstorms which is its growing season and “bruisewort since the leaves are crushed and used in herbal remedies for soothing bruised, chapped skin.
Daisies are believed to represent purity, beauty, innocence, simplicity, and a loyal love. Relics dates with daisies have been found on the Island of Crete and Egyptian ceramics. They are always used in Mary Gardens and are sometimes associated with Saint John. The daisy is not just a mere flower, though. A member of the largest flower family known, its cousins include chamomile, an herbal tea with medicinal benefits, as well as the Jerusalem artichoke, lettuce, sunflowers, safflower, chicory, and Echinacea.
American Indian folklore associated the daisy with the sun. The bright yellow center with its pure white petals denoted the sun and its rays. In the early seventeenth century the daisy gained popularity when Lady Mary Wortley published a book on the symbolism of flowers. The daisy represented a covert message to someone that you liked them and reciprocated their feelings. After all, who hasn’t plucked the petals of a daisy and asked: “S/He loves me; S/He loves me not?
In Renaissance paintings the daisy was used to illustrate the purity of the Virgin Mary and sometimes her baby and often replaced the lily which was seen as a flower of seduction. Norse mythology employed the daisy as homage to Freya, the Norse love goddess, continuing the theme of motherhood and even unblemished youth. The Roman mythology of Vertumnus, the Roman god of agriculture, is said to have become infatuated with the nymph Belides. To avoid his stalking, the myth states that Belides turned herself into a field of daisies rather than confront him.
Sitting in a park on a warm spring day, the practice of making a daisy chain can be both meditative and invigorating. Feeling the warmth of the sun and enjoying creation does require some negotiation, though. There is always something else we could be doing. The importance of taking such time, though, cannot be overstated. Neither can the importance of negotiation.
Negotiation in the twenty-first century may seem like a forgotten art but it is vital to our future. Negotiation takes place every day. Think of the common intersection. Some have stop lights; others stop signs. Regardless of the signage or legal indications, no one safely passes through an intersection with other vehicles or persons present unless all agree. The simple negotiation that all will orderly proceed is what allows everyone to get to their destination safely. While the legal signage is a neutral third party, the negotiation represented by all obeying provides an effective and powerful manner of avoiding both conflict and crashes.
All negotiation is a process, a series of gives and takes. Some see negotiation as a power struggle or game while others take a more relaxed approach. A negotiation is not coercion, though, and must be entered into with good faith, positive expectations, and realistically defined outcomes. After all, if one turkey has been prepared for the dinner table, it is very unlikely that three different people will each enjoy a turkey leg!
The simple but delectable pie is an often-used symbol of negotiation. After all, any good negotiation involves the dividing of goals and desires. The best negotiation is one in which all sides have equally received. There are always those people who prefer a smaller pie of the pie in exchange for something else, perhaps an extra helping of ice cream which often accompanies the slice of pie on American dinner tables.
Negotiation is a fact of life and recognition of this fact does not mean one has given up or over. It simply means one realizes that we are all part of a larger bouquet of life. The basic tools for good negotiation are confidence, cooperation and honesty. Interestingly enough, they are also the best way to grow a field of daisies.
Approach life with confidence and utilize everything at hand in a cooperative spirit. For growing daisies that means don’t water yourself every day but let nature do some. I have a neighbor who religiously waters her lawn every day, even one hour after a rainstorm! Just because you CAN do something does not mean you should. If this neighbor was honest, she would recognize that her garden doesn’t need her to do the watering every day.
Life is for living and negotiating is a part of living. Most of us are not kings but even kings must rely on the good treatment of their subjects in order to survive. The human chains of life we make provide us with necessary connections and all have value. Henry Boyle said: “The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway.”
My Proverb 23
Walk in the knowledge that everything is a choice and the value is not only in what one chooses but also in what one does not.