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Lessons I've learned from watering a fake succulent

“Was it before the pandemic? During the pandemic? When exactly did I get this plant? Why does it look so dusty?” These were the questions running through my mind last week when it dawned on me that the succulent I’d been watering on autopilot these past few years is in fact artificial. If you’re laughing right now, good. Mission accomplished. It’s pretty much the funniest thing I’ve ever done. Well, almost. There was this one time when I sang “Sexual Healing” in front of my 98-year-old immigrant great grandmother and our entire family when I was five. I mean I just thought it was a cool song. The content and it’s actual meaning were completely beyond my ken.

I know what you’re thinking. How could I not know the plant was fake? Right? You and me both. One of my friends on Facebook asked me what tipped me off. How did I all of a sudden have a new awareness that the succulent isn’t alive? And the sad truth is, I killed a “real” succulent using the exact same care as I’d given to the artificial one. Having grown up in a house full of plants with a mother who had a definite green thumb, it’s a mystery to me why I haven’t mastered the art of keeping plants alive. Maybe it skips a generation? Looking at the artificial succulent last week so buoyant, verdant, and bright it finally hit me — I hadn’t miraculously kept this one plant alive after a slew of failures with other plants. The company that made it had done that by making it Jenna proof.

And it may sound strange, but I’d purchased the artificial succulent in the same section as real ones and I convinced myself that it had to be real too. Its leaves felt the same as real ones. It had the same coloring. So what if there were rocks where soil should be? There must be a reason for that, right? So, I put it in my shopping cart that day with all of the other items for my home and I vowed to keep it alive. And then life got busy.

And we all know what that can mean, don’t we? We may forget to look up at the time when we’re working intently and hours may go by without even realizing it. Or we go on autopilot when we’re driving. Or in my case, we may forget to wonder if the succulent we’ve been watering is actually real. And you know what I say to all of this? This is the mind’s natural setting. It’s incredibly human to tune out, go on autopilot and succumb to monkey mind. So here are the lessons I’m taking away from this experience:

  • It’s amazing to want to water and feed another sentient being, but for crying out loud please make sure it’s actually alive and needs you.

  • Let’s try to take ourselves less seriously! Life always has it’s comedic gold. This is one of those instances.

  • Stop and smell the fake succulents. Right? Wait, do they have a smell? I dunno. Mine is covered in dust.

  • Soil is not the same as rocks. Succulents definitely need soil.

And if you have a funny “mindless” story, please, please share. The more the merrier :).

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