Things to Write - A house plant is dying. Tell it why it needs to live.

Dear House-Plant-who-is-dying,

Hi. I'm Nina, and I have been directed to write to you regarding your current sad state of health. I've been asked to discuss reasons to live, but given I don't know the specifics of your circumstances, I don't think I can go about this the way it was intended. That will not, however, stop me from plowing head-first into this, so let's see where this goes.

I don't know what type of plant you are, but I wish that I did. The prompt makes me feel like your life/death scenario involves an option on your part, which I was lead to believe by high school biology was not really how this works. Far be it from me to argue with book over a hypothetical plant, but someone thinks I'm up for this, so I guess I'm going to run with it. 

Our natural inclination when it comes to someone or something being in declining health is to wish for that decline to end -- but not in a fatal way: we want a status quo maintained, one where everyone involved is happy and feeling good about life. But, like plants having the mind to take their own lives, that isn't how life works.

Let me be "one of those people" for a moment and bring up an excellent line written by Chuck Palahniuk in Fight Club: "On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero." It isn't a matter of if as much as when, which I think some people forget when dealing with someone or something clearly reaching the end of their life span. Death is something that can always happen "later," maybe when it's more convenient, or when we have had our fill of that person, enough to live without anything more than their memory. But we can never truly get our fill of someone or something, and death is seldom if ever convenient. 

I'm rambling, dear Houseplant, so let me get back to you.

Maybe you're tired (do plants get tired?), or maybe you don't get enough sunlight or water. Maybe the house cat nibbles on you or perhaps you have a nasty aphid infestation dragging you down. Perhaps you're having trouble with your chlorophyll, or maybe your housemates aren't talking to you as frequently as they once did and you're endlessly lonely. Regardless of the reason, things are grim and, as a plant, you have limited options. Most involve waiting around fruitlessly (I'm sorry for the pun) and hoping someone else notices and helps you out in some fashion.

As a plant (again, as my understand from biology class nearly 15 years ago led me to believe), there isn't much else to do. So what is there to live for?

My initial instinct is to go, "fuck" and be bummed out for a while, pondering how empty your life must feel even if you've been mostly well-cared for the entire time. I don't want to outright say, "I can't blame you, so maybe casting off your leaves for the final time is your best option" either because that's awful. But I don't want to lie and say, "it'll totally get better, just wait and see!" because I don't believe in blowing sunshine up anyone's ass, even if in your case, it might actually help.

The point is, what you have to life for is ultimately up to you. Just remember that the people around you telling you to keep going are thinking about everything positive and beautiful your existence provides them, even if you can't see things that way. Wishing life on people and things is selfish, but understandably so. That doesn't mean we aren't allowed to die, since 100% of us are going to die completely ignoring how anyone else feels about the situation.

No one can really determine your quality of life as well as you can. People can be supportive of you and want you to flourish again and again, but they can't name your struggle and they aren't the ones who determine what you can actually soldier through. What I think personally doesn't really matter, especially if you've already made up your mind (which, arguably, you haven't, since you lack a mind to make up), and no amount of wishing otherwise will make a plant keep flowering and blooming beyond its capability (caveats exist, I'm sure, but I never finished college so I'll admit a dearth of knowledge on this subject).

As requested, though, here are a few things you may miss if you decide that you are ready to go (I can't say "be one with the earth," really, since your kind generally has that covered pretty well):

-the beauty of a sunrise or a sunset (in your case, maybe beauty doesn't come into it, but I'm okay with projecting, given the circumstance)
-the refreshing feel of water misting across your leaves (presumably, anyway)
-the "ooh"s and "aah"s of passersby who are taken in by your beauty
-those first days after being replanted into a larger pot and letting your roots stretch out in the space
-the pride of new growth every year

...the problem I'm having seems to be that I can't get away from things that either happen rarely, things that involve massive amount of ego-stroking, or things that might have no real appeal to you. I mean, don't get me wrong, but these aren't things that I use to talk myself out of a rough patch, so why would I use them on you? I can't think of the last time I actually *watched* the sun rise or set. Maybe you've never been misted. Maybe no one appreciates you. Again, I don't know.

What I do know is, it's ultimately your choice. I'm a firm believer in the idea of allowing someone to die with dignity, as much as I am a believer in not doing anything too risky in too rash a fashion. If you sleep, I would say sleep on it. I won't beg you to stay since we've all got to die sometime...but know without a shadow of a doubt that the world will be less lovely without you in it.

<3
nt.