My EJC Responses

A Metaphor for the Erotic Self

Yesterday, the metaphor of that garden spider stuck with me all day…and grew. I thought about how garden spiders just hang out, right there in the center of their webs, fattening up through the late summer and into fall. How they start out small and bright and end up large and dark.

I am nothing like them in their boldness. I would not build my web across a window, between trees, confident and stubborn, knowing I’d likely have to rebuild multiple times throughout the season.

I would weave mine way up in the corner like Charlotte, writing messages and spinning tales, talking to whoever would listen, just like I do here. I couldn’t just sit there and wait patiently. I’d have to do something productive and creative, and sometimes, that’s where I go wrong.

Because my erotic self resides just above the calm and just below the energy.

When I think of my erotic self, the image of the night-blooming cereus comes to mind. She blooms sporadically, only at night, through summer and early fall. While that is sort of the opposite of my “bloom time,” I do have a tendency to blossom at night. I’m being only a little sarcastic by choosing a spiky cactus that (some varieties) only blooms once a year, but you get the point. My erotic self is not as forth-coming as I’d like it to be…a field of wild persistent flowering perennials that crop up throughout the year no matter what you do to try and stop them. Does a plant like that even exist? 

So instead, I rested on the orchid. Mine’s a finicky beast, but she’s beautiful and she blossoms continually (for me, at least) starting sometime in mid-winter (late December or so) until February and then again in summer. In fact, mine just dropped her last withered white and yellow petals two days ago. She’s a cyclical bloomer, resting and restoring between her seasons. But when she awakes, she puts on quite a show…dozens of little buds ripening quickly and opening, like a firework finale, one after the other. I don’t pressure her and I’ve never re-potted her. I put up with her down times, knowing that I have to wait it out. Between blooming seasons, one of her two waxy green leaves usually browns, dries, and falls away, and eventually, her stem will, too, as a new one grows from somewhere at the base. I have to watch her carefully, because you never know where it will come from, and I have to train it upward with clips so it doesn’t just shoot sideways.

There’s no forcing an orchid, either.

I gave one to my mother for a present a few years ago. Dozens of tiny, bright magenta flowers. But, mom, not being a lover of houseplants (I should’ve given more wisely), only loved it into it’s first rest season. Once it lost its luster, she immediately became disenchanted and started futzing with it. Rather than calling me or looking it up, she cut the stem, stripped off the barely browning leaf and re-potted it to cover up all those “unsightly spidery looking roots.” Good god, mother! Those are air roots! You basically suffocated your orchid to death.

No. Orchids are not the easiest plants…but they will bloom as trained and, with the right care, will live for years (even decades). Many are drawn to their intricate blossoms in stores, buy them, and then throw them out after their first blossoms fall, believing the plant to be dead. But this resting period is when the plant stores up energy for the next blooming cycle.

So…you see…the orchid is a perfect metaphor for my creative and erotic cycles. They take a bit of work to maintain, but really aren’t all that difficult to take care of. Really, all they ask is to be left alone for a bit to recharge. They can even be trained, over time, to bloom during particular seasons and more often. I’ve always just left mine to be what she wants. She sits in my kitchen window and I move her from time to time so that her leaves grow correctly without smashing against the glass. I give her space, water her weekly, and appreciate her show when she is ready. If I were inclined, I could probably get her to bloom a third time, but I accept her as she is.

Orchid Care

If you are looking for a retreat prompt for today, try this:

What metaphor would you choose to describe your erotic (and/or creative) self?


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