I just finished reading The Language of Flowers*. It’s the first novel I have read for pleasure in perhaps years, certainly in months. Spending the day after I took the LSAT exam lounging with my love, curled up in bed with a book and a cup of coffee, I lost myself in this first book from Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I laughed, I cried, I fought against the realizations and understandings it inspired, I didn’t want it to end.
As a child, I knew nothing of floriography. My communication with flowers and herbs and weeds was done completely by my own dictionary, with meanings it seemed no one else could conjure unless they asked me directly. Often, the message behind the delivery was determined by the recipient: had they been kind, or treated me poorly? Were they a mentor, or a danger? As I grew, I investigated the properties of herbs and spices, learning the magickal and medicinal meanings for each. But flowers weren’t readily available for much of the year in Northern Minnesota, and so their attraction waned–save for lavender.
Though it was not native, and didn’t survive winters, lavender was always available as dried buds in the local co-op. From sachet pillows to bath salts, I spent years putting lavender in everything I created. It wasn’t just the somnial effects (which soothed my insomniac heart) that drew me in, but the gentle scent and forgiving nature of the buds that kept me returning. Crushing them only makes the scent reappear stronger.
Never did I question the meaning or the message behind lavender, though. Not once did I consider it could be anything other than rest, or peacefulness, or tranquility. Until now.
While lavender was not explicitly mentioned in The Language of Flowers, the book includes it’s own flower dictionary as an appendix. After I finished absorbing the brilliance and learning this book offered, I was suddenly inspired to look up the only flower that had ever mattered to me. Only to learn its true meaning.
Lavender means Mistrust.
Once I learned this, the words flew from my pen into the journal in my lap:
Lavender means mistrust. No wonder it is the flower to which I cling, the one bud I cannot resist, the blossom I carry from place to place, hovering above my bed or near the door. Do not trust me, it screams. Do not rely on me. Do not hope that I will succeed. Do not trust your dreams, sweet child, for they are as permanent as morning mist. Do not trust your feelings, your love. Do not let others trust you. Do not give them a reason to trust.
You will always let them down.
How do I let go of lavender? How do I release the fear of trust while still inhaling that soft, sweet scent? How do I place it on my pillow and not use it to mistrust the sleep it brings?
How do I write letters to forgotten mothers, to lost sisters, to mentors ignored and friends let go — and trust they can understand?
All I have to give is pieces of my self: of my story, of my past, of my truth. I give them to those who are least likely to understand, least likely to give back in kind. I give them as ocean jewels, as bread crumbs. I give them with the hope that they will reach another life, another struggle, another mistrusting soul and help her find some snippet of peace. Of love. Of — if only for a moment — trust.
How do I learn to trust?
Last week I confessed a secret on Instagram: I want to be that tarot-reading, pendulum-swinging, affirmation-stone advocate-lawyer who brings light and justice and healing to the world. It wasn’t an easy thing to admit, but its truth resonates so deeply in my bones I tremble at the purity of it. This week I started reading Do the Work!, on loan from my friend Heather, and in it’s easy language and utter frankness, I am inspired to move continually forward in search of this dream (and so many others). And the fear around it, the consequences of my dreaming in relation to the adventures I’ll be undertaking, no longer matters. As much as I am afraid of achieving my dreams, I have finally accepted that I am more afraid of NOT achieving them.