One thing I love about floral design: It requires me to exercise my “let it go” muscle. Despite my fully developed frontal lobe and submission to practical shoes, I still secretly pine over the image of myself tenaciously typing out the final chapter of my great American novel. Or, I hold a teeny, ittybitty torch for the canvas I’ll never turn into a moody portrait using paints with names like ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow and hookers green. I admit it, I have always wanted to be an artist- to live a wild, untamed existence where art reigns supreme and I am but a vessel! Ehem. Ok, maybe the torch is not so teeny.
And I have at different times, tried my hand at both writing and painting. I even enjoyed a few moments, experiencing real progress, the occasional epiphany or catharsis. But mostly folks, I spent my time smoking cigarettes (sue me, it was the 90’s), daydreaming and agonizing over details in lieu of finishing anything. And god save me if I did finish a project- it was enough to send me into existential dread. I never developed a healthy relationship to “my work” (that’s what you call it when you take yourself too seriously) and I walked a precariously thin line between believing I might be the next Basquiat and going back to school for an accounting degree so I could get a real job.
One of the reasons I fell in love with floral design is the temporary-ness of the medium. I mean, a beautiful floral arrangement has an expiration date, right? In 7-10 days it will be time to say goodbye and compost that baby. I love that about flowers, its liberating. The sheer immortality of a story or painting was enough to paralyze me; such a commitment! Flowers are fleeting and their transience is a request, no, a demand for our immediate attention. They ask us to see and smell them NOW. I know for some their relatively short life is inconvenient and they wish things like “if only flowers lasted longer!” Not me. I’m so thankful that when I finish designing an arrangement, it is time for me to let it go and make another. What a gift to have no time to over-ponder or over-contemplate (I do have the propensity to navel gaze). Their impermanence frees my creativity and hushes my inner critic. Whose got time for inner critics- more importantly what is the shelf life of a sweet pea! It has always been a comfort that even a fully conceived floral arrangement, one that in my mind embodies perfect balance and color harmony lasts only as long as one of my grandmother’s casseroles and I’ve got to get it out of the shop and off to its new owner as soon as possible. No holding on, no insecure clutching. Design, let go, design, let go. What comfort. What fun!