Picture caption: Mocha, the dog, AND a blooming primrose.
2024, a New Year. We are living in the future, with the whole year ahead of us. Plans to be made, milestones to be reached, and goals to accomplish. These past few years have been a flurry of changes and it is just starting to click in my brain that I am a fully fledged adult.
Do not be fooled, I still heavily depend on my parents. I had to call them to decide what to wear the other day, but at least I have my own Netflix account (albeit not by choice). All of the preparations for the future, and I find myself particularly reflective of the past. Not just the past few years graduating, getting married, buying a house, and most recently becoming a mother. Many of my reflections take me back to middle school when I was studying hard and preparing for my future as a “leader”.
Leadership was always one of my top elective choices. I was inspired by the numerous leaders I was reading and learning about to make a difference, but more so I loved planning a good party. Along with these classes came several field trips, camps, and activities that enlarged my circle of acquaintances and challenged my way of thinking.
Usually, these trips involved getting twentyish middle school-aged strangers into a room together and making them converse -I know it sounds daunting. In an attempt to make everyone a little uncomfortable to introduce some semblance of camaraderie for the hour, week, or semester leaders would circle everyone up and lead them in a game called “Baby”.
The game would start by roping everyone into a large circle. Each individual would take turns facing the player on their right and say the words “Baby I love you, would you please just smile” while doing something entirely ridiculous in an attempt to make their opponent smile. “Baby, I love you but I just can’t smile” was the proper response; however, the opponent would have to complete the response without smiling or laughing. If at any point they did break into a grin, they would then be out and the game would continue until one individual was the ultimate winner.
This game would of course bring the room to a dull roar of laughter and everyone would be the best of friends. Even though times change, I noticed a striking similarity to a popular trend that has arisen recently. This trend has a scale of 1-10 where partners can be ranked based on desirable attributes. A 10 is the perfect person. The game starts with they are a 10 but… and a particular undesirable trait, red flag, or ick is mentioned. For example, “he’s a 10 but he doesn’t shop at The Garden Corner”. In my opinion, his rating may drop down to a four (the rating will change from person to person).
Reminiscing on these funny and revealing entertainments, I noticed that there always seems to be a but. This is seen in daily use as well and they have a wide range of danger levels. It could be nonthreatening like Honey, I love you but it’s your turn to change the diaper. There could be some risk involved like Baby, I love you but I accidentally over-watered your rare houseplant. Or, in my opinion, the most nuclear, Darling I love you but there is not enough milk for coffee.
Even outside of the household, the but starts to creep into our minds. Plant shoppers will find a gift, a particular plant that reminds them of someone special, a Valentine maybe. They ooh and aah, then the but starts to creep in. I would get them this plant but… I do not know if they will like it, or if they have one already, or if they can care for it, or if they have room. The doubt creeps into the loving intent and it can become crippling.
Since the new year, or new-ish year as I have been inspired by writing this article, I have made it a personal challenge to find the AND. Honey, I love you AND I repacked the diaper bag so we can go to The Garden Corner. Baby, I love you AND we can go get a new plant. Darling, I love you AND The Garden Corner has free coffee, milk included!
This simple switch in thinking and speaking has changed my general outlook. I found this plant AND it reminded me of you. I chose this plant AND it matches the other one you have. I found this plant AND it is easy to care for. Hopefully, you get the idea.
I have already noticed a general uplift in my mood with the shift of language, and it makes it easier to think of others in addition to myself (but unfortunately it has not magically produced enough milk for my morning cup of coffee -yet).