I Was Just Thinking: Flowers Are Beautiful – But Do Not Last

By Norma Adams-Wade
Founding Member of NABJ

Here are some flowers for you. Please enjoy them right away. They won’t last. That’s the problem with beautiful things. Mostly, the beauty is temporary. It’s like a Happy Birthday party. You get to be the center of attention, sap up adulation and gifts, eat cake, and have it too. Then the next day comes and it’s back to business as usual. I was just thinking…. why is beauty so fleeting, even the beauty of life? It doesn’t last.

So, in the midst of all the muck and mire, destruction and mayhem, sorrow and heartbreak in recent months, I want to give you some beauty. Right about now, we all need some flowers. So, here are yours. Usually, flowers are meant to deliver an assortment of messages – a gesture of comfort during sadness, an apology or request for forgiveness, a congratulation, an acknowledgment of a wedding or other special occasion, or a “just-because” reason. Flowers usually do the job they were assigned to do. 

Actually, I do not believe in giving flowers. And it is for that very reason that I usually do not give them. Why spend money on something so beautiful, knowing that it will not last? I have received many bouquets of flowers and each time have greatly appreciated the sentiment. But when the buds and leaves begin to fade and fall, my smile turns upside down. Beauty goes the way of all flesh – physical beauty, an exquisite sandcastle on the beach, a brand-spanking-new car. Try as you will to hold on to it, the glamour will disappear. All life is temporary. But so many lives – some promising, some scarred; now and before – have been more fleeting than we would have imagined. The Holy Bible–one of my revered reference books, written by many writers but inspired by One, – translates Psalms 90:10 this way: It says, in essence, that we are assigned at least 70 years (“threescore and ten”), not free of sorrow, and that our years are “soon cut off.” Later, verse 12 requests: “so teach us to number our days.”

Shakespeare in his works also re-worded many Biblical references. He referred to that 70-year span in Macbeth: “Threescore and ten I can remember well,” he wrote. “(…and within that time), I have seen hours dreadful and things strange…” He went on to describe one “sore night” that “trifled former knowings.” We, too, have experienced such “sore night(s)” and days with recent tribulations that defy explanation and still are continuing. With all his literary fluff, the message of the playwright and author, in my view, was that life is full of agony among its beauty and ridiculousness. I must confess that I wanted to talk about Atatiana Jefferson of Fort Worth, Texas, and Breonna Taylor of Louisville, Kentucky. The two women wrongly killed by police officers will not leave me alone. But I am taking a detour from pain and will rest a moment among the flowers. I do not believe in them. Yet, here are yours. They are indeed exquisite. I just wish they and their beauty would last.

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