Tbh, I didn’t see what the big deal with plants were–I just awlays liked beautiful, scented flowers, but that’s it. I just knew that they die quickly unless you were growing them in a garden.
But for some reason, I never had trouble with plants. I guess I just always went by that simple lesson being taught in my elementary school science class about how plants, “need water and sunlight.” Nothing else more complicated.
I remember getting my first plant (I think it was a begonia?) during undergrad because Mount Holyoke had this tradition of giving a free mini plant to their freshmen (and apparently there is an urban legend that if your plant dies, you won’t graduate!), and how I was like, “bleh, that’s it?…this is just…a leaf..” and I just left it by the Eastern-facing window and had it grow. Damn, that thing just kept growing, while my roommate’s plant died in a week. I just kept watering it and leaving it there. That’s it.
But I forgot what happened to it lol.
I then remember going to the Netherlands and seeing ppl just buy plants and orchids as if it’s no big deal. I loved the flowers, so I began to get addicted and bought a buttload of orchids from Home Depot and put them in my dorm room during my first year of grad school. Loved it, and was able to keep a consistent watering schedule (that’s the trick!)
I guess I just never grew plants growing up because I lived on a low-floor building in NYC (so all the sunlight would get blocked by the skyscrapers).
Then last year, I saw this ‘pink princess philodendron’ somewhere and I just got hooked. I saw some real cute houseplants in some Nordic interior decoration posts and just started to search there.
One plant led to another plant, which led me to see this whole new world: The Online Plant Community.
I remember when I would post some questions on some orchid forms, a while back, that the people were friendly and actually were nice enough to share info (this is totally the opposite of the budo community, where you have that whole ‘ego thing’ going on and also the tradition of ‘stealing the waza’). I also posted on this monstera albo Facebook group about my first albo that wasn’t getting a new leaf, and had so many nice, thorough responses that helped (I also met one of my albo dealers there, even though I was already following her Insta).
Corona has definitely made me pay more attention to the plants, since I don’t have my dojo and stuff to go to. Upon observing the posts from others and seeing their form of ‘drama,’ I cannot help but to think about how different it is from the budo world.
Mind you, I may have these opinions now because I am still pretty new to it (so everything is still in that lally dally phase), but I did notice a few things:
The plant community doesn’t seem to be competitive in the same way as the budo world, and I think it’s due to the nature of the activity; martial artists are historically always fighting and competing, resulting in having different types of human relations skills, while plant people are used to minding their own activity in nature, and really just quietly introverted.
In the budo world, if you want to learn something, a lot of times you would need to be fake and suck up to the higher-ups, because a lot of people are so egotistical. Unfortunately, it is very common for a lot of backlashing at other teachers about their methods, their students’ faulty techniques, as well as a lot of people happily wanting to teach their, ‘RIGHT WAY AND THE ONLY WAY’ to people because they equate it to them feeding their ego.
I haven’t seen this in the plant world. There are different methods to growing plants, but people are not aggressively pushing their opinions onto others about what the best method is.
Because the supply and demand are always disproportionate, you do not have people aggressively trying to steal customers from some sellers, and they don’t do the same aggressive smacktalking in the same way I see higher up budo ppl do, where they are always trying to poach new talent to add a good rep to their school etc etc…
Now, I’m not saying that all budo people are like this, but unfortunately, there are so many of them that I’m starting think that it’s turned into the mere expectation, which really makes you search hard and treasure those people who actually are good-natured and about the art (those are the people I tend to get along with and the only ppl who tend to like me anyway).
I guess with plants, you’re not fighting—you also are not pushy because you know that you cannot control how the plant grows (lol reminds me of that Kung Fu Panda quote), so ppl who take on that hobby for the long-term tend to fit in that personality profile.
A lot of these thoughts and this current quarantine time-period where I’m spending more time with my plants, reminds me of that scene from Fearless, where Jet Li was out in the mountains and in nature as a way to reform himself:
It’s like being out of that competitive, egotistical environment, actually made him more powerful. As for why that is, I still have no idea 🙂 Maybe I’ll learn after our borders reopen.
I hope that the budo community can learn a lot of things from the online plant community. I hope that they can be friendly with sharing info and more open to making allies, rather than competing to be the best. After all, it’s just like that quote from Hanzawa Naoki,
“The world is made up of human relations”
You cannot get better without others. Friendships and allies go a long way, so make sure you stay good natured and uncorrupted.