“I feel like those anemones in that vase over there,” said my piano teacher as she sat in her living room, her rolling walker off to the side of her chair. I looked at the purple, red, and white flowers in the vase behind me. “It’s like they’re imprisoned in that vase,” she went on.
“What do you mean?” I asked. I had noticed the flowers last week when I visited, and thought how sweet it was for her husband to get them for her. “Well, my husband got them and just stuck them in that vase – they look so cramped in there. It makes me feel so bad, I took them off the coffee table and put them over there on the desk.”
I must insert here that I, not so long ago, would have done the exact same thing – just stuck some flowers in a vase any old way. But I knew my piano teacher’s love of decorating and making things beautiful, so I asked, “Well, what would you rather they were in?”
“Oh! I have this lovely pitcher, with a lip around it, and if my hands worked better I would cut the stems and lay them in there – there are spaces in the lip and when you put the flowers in, you can see all of them spilling out the sides and in the middle.”
“Well, I’ve got hands that work,” I said as I got up from my spot on the couch. (We are good friends, not just student and teacher, so we take some time to converse before my lessons. I call it my therapy session. A lot of the time, we have so much to talk about we never even get to the lesson.)
“Really?” she asked. “Of course!” I responded. “If that’s all it takes to make you feel better, that’s easy for me.”
She slowly got up from her chair and wheeled her walker over to the steps between the living room and kitchen. She put the brakes on the rolling walker, and then reached for the straight legged walker which she uses to get down the two stairs. “You go first,” she said, ushering me into the kitchen. “I think the pitcher is in the top of the closet.”
She stood in the middle of the kitchen watching as I filled the pitcher with water and a few ice cubes, instructing me to cut the stems at an angle. As I placed each flower in the pitcher she said, “See how they just fall into place – they tell you where they want to go.” She was right – it didn’t take much arranging at all. The flowers naturally slid into position between each other. When I was finished, we had a beautiful bouquet of color.
“Oh – now doesn’t that look so much better?” she asked. She was right, of course. They looked a hundred times better arranged this way than they did standing at attention in the cut crystal vase. “Now we can put them back in the middle of the coffee table,” she said.
Not having practiced any of my piano pieces, I opted out of a lesson and we talked for another hour. As I got up to leave, she thanked me again for helping her with the flowers. “You made my day,” she said. “I can’t tell you how much better I feel with those flowers looking so pretty now.”
Now some of you might say, “Can changing a flower arrangement really make that much of a difference?” My answer is a resounding yes. This wasn’t really about the flowers, of course. It was about how such a simple thing – a change in perspective – can really turn a day around.