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May 17, 2015 - By Peggy Sealfon

The Valuable Life Lessons in the Magnolia




Nature is full of remarkable insights...if we just pay attention.


The lesson began on a steamingly hot afternoon at one of Naples’ preeminent golf courses but it wasn’t about golf.  It was the kind of day in which rivulets of perspiration flow steadily down your back and beads of it keep erupting above your lip. As I strolled back to the cart to wipe my face after finishing one hole, I realized Patrick wasn’t following. Instead he had stopped to pluck a massive magnolia bloom from the nearby landscaping for me.  As he approached with the stunning white flower, its sweet perfumed fragrance wafted to my nostrils, awakening my deepest appreciation for nature’s offerings. Gazing at this floral specimen, surrounded by waxy, dark green leaves, I immediately noticed two petals had been the victim of a hungry insect and there were two obvious gaping holes.

I felt a bizarre sense of sadness well up inside me. The marvelous flower wasn’t perfect. It had succumbed to environmental influences and natural forces. As silly as it sounds, the white magnolia with its conspicuous blemishes suddenly seemed a symbol of vulnerability and frailty, in an odd way representing our very humanness.  And like the magnolia, we all have our scars and yet we are part of nature and we survive. We can accept what is just as I was accepting the magnolia’s unnatural gashes while still enjoying its beauty.  Noticing the wounds, Patrick instantly committed to getting me a better flower. But I wanted this one. I liked that it was flawed, that it had served another creature in nature. In spite of being marred, it was still special and intoxicatingly aromatic. I wanted to enjoy this inspirational selection of nature’s bounty.

But the magnolia had another challenge. It was separated from nurturing. It had no water.  It began to droop in the sweltering heat of the day.  Its once-firm petals were getting limp. “No,” I thought. “Don’t die.” Cut off from its source, it was suffering. Patrick laughed and imitated the trumpeting death sounds which made me want to save it even more. I was aware of how ridiculous my thoughts were becoming but I didn’t want him to know what I was thinking. I wanted the magnolia’s existence to mean something.  I didn’t want to just discard it in the trash or let it fade away.  I wanted it to perk up and spread its graceful petals again. I willed it to live.  It took two more hours before we got home.  Driving in the car, I held it upside down by its woody stem, stroking its petals to lay quietly closed, and communicated energetically to hold on. Finally we arrived home and I started my attempt to revive it, performing a kind of floral CPR.  Of course, by now Patrick thought I had totally lost my mind. But I was determined.

I filled a vase with water, snipped an inch off the thick stem and placed it gingerly in the vase. It was a sad sight. The petals just flopped haphazardly in every direction. It looked gone. Hopeless. But then a miracle happened. Within just a few hours, it regained its original structure and looked like a fresh-picked magnolia blossom.  It was quite remarkable to witness.  Today, it opened majestically to greet the new day and I felt overjoyed. To me, it is a testament to the natural laws of nature.  Survival is a basic instinct. When we provide basic needs, we survive and flourish.  In human terms, we need a feeling of purpose, nutritious food, water, exercise, adequate sleep and connection. For the magnolia, I felt bonded to it, energetically connected, and once it had water it could thrive again. There are many messages to glean from the magnificent magnolia.  I am reminded of perseverance and faith, about accepting what is beyond our understanding, which we often call miracles.  I believe it is essential to cultivate an appreciation for existence and cherish life in all its infinite forms.  When the magnolia does die eventually, it will have served a meaningful purpose. In the end, I feel blessed and happy to have had my moments with the magnolia and to remember life's lessons. (Okay, I have to admit there was also a certain sweet pleasure in disproving Patrick’s death knell!)


Peggy Sealfon is a personal development coach and author of the  book Escape from Anxiety—Supercharge Your Life with Powerful Strategies from A to Z.  She spends her time helping people overcome stress, anxiety, pain and live a more integrated, happier, healthier life.  Want a FREE consultation?  Click on the FREE link below to arrange a 15-minute phone session directly with Peggy. Or >>go here>>


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