My Life in Symbolism: Pruning (part 3)

I should probably mention that even though the Last Rose was dead, there were new buds already growing. I failed to get a picture, but I think there were four. So already the Last Rose was actually the first, though I persisted in the misnomer.

The Last Rose faded to oblivion on a Wednesday. On Thursday, I read Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? while waiting for the technician to arrive. On Sunday my car died. Long story short, but I did not like the dealer where I took it, so I only had them fix one of the two things that went seriously wrong with it. (It since died again and I got the real problem fixed…another saga for another day, perhaps.)

These things are not why it took me so long to write this post.

A friend of mine loaned me a car while mine was in the shop. Driving back from work that Tuesday in late June, my mood still black, I parked and looked in the rear view mirror and nearly cried.

My rosebuds were gone. Maintenance had come through and hacked at the roses. Pruning, technically, but in the same way that tying your hair in a pony tail and chopping it off in one fell swoop is a haircut. One had even been starting to open. Only one bud was left, and for the sole reason that it happened to be lower than the rest.

I picked up my car the next morning, half-fixed, and contemplated Job on the drive. Job, who lost literally everything in a very brief period.

At 3:00 that afternoon, the managers pulled the entire company into the conference room to make an announcement.

Trying to explain this tactfully is why I’ve had a hard time writing this post.

I was only tangentially affected by the announcement, but (keeping this purposefully vague) the decision they announced was not one I – or many coworkers – wholeheartedly agreed with. And there was a distinct sense of loss associated with this decision. I trust them to have not made the decision lightly, and am still happy there. But there was discontent among the ranks for a time after the decision was announced, and for me personally, this moment marked the end of the Honeymoon period. Things are still good there, but (cough hack) the rose-colored glasses are off.

One of the nice things about where I work is that there is strong support for walking – a mile at 11:00 and 3:00 every day for those who want to go. At 3:45 that day many of us took off for our customary walk around the block. All of us were buzzing: “What? Why?”

All I could think about, though, were my roses, so roughly pruned the night before.

There’s a concept – resource allocation. Carefully distributing your resources. In business, this means investing more heavily in one project with higher impact than a low-impact project. My friend Lindsey studies a similar concept in house wrens. I’m probably summarizing her research badly, but basically wrens will invest more heavily in eggs of a certain shell color – a better quality – than others. Plants, I think, are the same way. Sure, you can let a plant go everywhere, but my very rudimentary understanding of, say, grapes on a vine is that grapes grow larger on pruned vines because there are fewer places for a plant to distribute resources than in an untended vine.

This is one of the reasons my rose bushes were pruned, though an actual gardener (as opposed to the apartment maintenance guy) would have probably left more of the buds for me. Pruning happens. Sometimes it is painful, but it is necessary for growth.

And that’s the third lesson of the rose bushes.

When I got home that night, still unhappy from the day, I turned to the last remaining bud.

“You had better be the most beautiful rose yet,” I told it.