I attribute some of my most profound life lessons to plants. One of my favorite phyto-lessons came a few Christmases ago while I was sitting on a plane, nibbling on some raw veggies. I was admiring the perfect spirals in my pieces of cauliflower and soon became absolutely mesmerized by them. Fibonnacci’s sequence in nature will never grow old on me. (In fact, more than once I have considered that if I were to start my own religion, the Golden Mean (phi) would be a central pillar of my doctrine). In case you have never noticed the cauliflower’s spiral, check it out here. It is truly a living fractal:
I followed the spiral as I ate, pulling one tiny branchlette after the next. I was awed to see that within each smaller section was another perfect spiral, and another, and another. I pictured the spiral continuing on past the limit of my eyesight, down through the molecules of the plant, to the spiral of the double helix, and maybe even beyond that. Is it possible that the quantum field within the cauliflower is spiraling too? My thoughts then shifted to human beings and I contemplated the possibility that my own life might somehow fit into an eternally perfect spiraling fractal.
Then came the realization that has forever changed my view of marriage:
I noticed that, although the sections I was eating formed part of a perfect spiral, each branchling separated from the spiral was distinctly deformed around the edges. In the process of growing in a tight clump, they had become molded to their neighbors. I imagine it might be possible to put a separator between every tiny cauliflower branch so that each could grow perfectly round, but this would sacrifice the over-all symmetry. No cauliflowerette would ever fit well with its neighbors if it grew alone. The reason these flowerettes fit so perfectly together is that they grew together. That was it! They grew together! The neuronal firings in my brain shifted to the topic of marriage (not surprising since I was then a student at BYU and said topic was a regular matter of discussion). Here within this severed white cluster of cellulose was wisdom: I am not searching for my perfect match. He doesn’t exist. My perfect match–the one who will fit seamlessly by my side–will be created in the process of growing together with me.
Earlier this year when a professor challenged us to write an essay for The 2009 Alma Don Sorensen Contest, I again thought of plants. My essay, titled “The Botany of Marriage” was awarded 5th place. I was honored to find that just shortly after being published in the SquareTwo journal, an Environmental Lawyer posted an essay of his own in response to mine.
Any thoughts on my essay?