Bloom Where and When You can
Today is May Day, a day historically set aside to celebrate spring and flowers as well as being a day to recognize Labor Unions and the common worker. It is also less than twenty-four hours after yet another school shooting, this time at the University of North Carolina, United States.
The following is an excerpt from an article in the Fort Worth (Texas, USA) newspaper “Star Telegram”, written by Deanna Boyd. Names have been omitted due to the age of the individual at the center of this article.
On Oct. 4, 2012, [X] called 911, telling a dispatcher, “Uh, I just killed my mom and my sister….”I felt like they were just suffocating me, in a way,” he told the dispatcher, according to a recording of the 911 call. “Obviously, you know, I’m pretty, I guess, evil.”
Responding Parker County deputies found [a woman] and her daughter dead of multiple gunshot wounds inside the house on [XX] Lane in [subdivision and town]. The young man was arrested at the scene. In a written statement, he told investigators that he had devised a plan to kill several family members after watching [a] remake of the movie “Halloween,” in which a boy murders relatives.
“While watching it I was amazed at how at ease the boy was during the murders and how little remorse he had afterward,” [X] wrote in his statement. “I was thinking to myself, it would be the same for me when I kill someone.”
Sheriff’s officials have said [X] used a gun stolen from his grandfather, a retired Fort Worth officer, to commit the slayings. [X] told investigators that he had intended to later kill his grandparents and two other sisters. But after the slayings of his mom and sister, [X] — in a state he described as “very shocked and scared” — instead placed the gun on the kitchen counter and called 911.
“I know now though that I’m done with killing. It’s the most dreadful and terrifying thing I will ever experience. And what happened last night will haunt me forever.”
We think we know so much and especially as young adults and teenagers, we can be intensely certain that we think we know something. Philosophy is about the “knowing” but how do we know? Sadly, many cult leaders never give their followers the chance to reflect upon their actions. These misguided young people searching for knowledge and truth are sacrificed for the greed and egos of others. At a time when so many are resorting to violence as an answer, we need to stop asking when will then killing stop and start asking what are these young people thinking. Philosophy is about the search for knowledge and it is a search conducted without a great deal of physical action, just mental. For that reason, many disdain it and consider it, to borrow from Shakespeare, “much ado about nothing”. Some say that about spiritual sects and religious denominations and faiths. We study to prevent knowledge from passing us by, from slipping through the hours of our living. The ancient philosophers saw the world moving on and asked why. We need to question our daily actions in the same way. Did what I do yesterday have value? Did I connect with another, friend or stranger? Was there a purpose for my being?
There is no one hard and fast rule that will be sufficient as an answer. The religions of the world usually claim love to be the answer but how do we live a healthy love for all? We will each have our own answers and paths of both learning and exploration. The future is, after all, ours to construct and write. Hopefully, we will connect with others and thrive. Hopefully, others will look back upon their connections with us and be thankful for them. Mostly, though I hope you never feel what this young man has felt. “It’s the most dreadful and terrifying thing I will ever experience. And what happened last night will haunt me forever.”
A common meme that has been around for decades is the admonishment to “Bloom where you are planted.” Mary Engelbreit, a children’s author and renowned illustrator and artist, is often credited with this saying but it predates her. Some claim the phrase is Biblical and cite Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14 but it never actually says we should bloom where we are. Others claim that was the intention of Paul in his writing to the church in Corinth, the text of which is found in 1 Corinthians 7:17.
The advice is good but is comes more from common sense than from spiritual or religious teachings. What about the saying thrive to survive. Often people ask if they are merely surviving or if it possible for them to thrive. In writing for the website The Chopra Center, Tamara Lechner suggests that “There is a fundamental difference between thriving and surviving. Surviving means, “to continue to live or exist,” while thrive can be defined as “to grow or develop well, to prosper or to flourish.”
In many countries surviving is a difficult task. Is it possible to break out of the mindset of survival mode to thrive? Lechner offers this advice: “Thriving happens when you have a life of purpose, vitality, connection, and celebration. This isn’t tied to a specific salary, job title, type of car, or relationship. Material possessions are not part of the recipe to thrive. Follow these four steps to stop surviving, and start thriving.”
Life is not about being haunted. Life is for living and living for the best outcomes for all of mankind. Enjoy today. It is the first day of the month of May and, in many areas, the true first day of spring. Live your faith. Exist, believe ,rejoice. Mostly, I hope you smile – at another but also at yourself. When we seek to thrive and help others do the same, then we have a much brighter future, one in which everyone has a chance to bloom, grow, and flourish.