blooming.

I recently attended an employee engagement seminar held by my company in an effort to extend my lunch hour by an extra hour. Weeks later, the wheels in my mind are still turning over one part of the talk. The speaker used the most frustrating allegory to illustrate her point. I’ll shorten it up a bit…

Under the el tracks, in the bank plaza on Wells, there’s a flower bed that blooms beautifully in the springtime. Thirty miles north, there are similar flowers blooming in a very different environment: the Chicago Botanic Garden. The flowers on Wells would probably be happier growing in the Botanic Garden, but they keep blooming where they’re planted. Like the flowers, you should make the most of your situation, drive your own career, and bloom where you’re planted.

The speaker’s message was clear – especially after she repeated it twice and sent it out in an enterprise-wide e-mail post-presentation. However, I’m a bit confused as to how I’m supposed to be inspired by flowers which – while, yes, they bloom - have a lifespan of less than a week (due to a steady diet of ashtray soil, exhaust fume air, and acid rain sludge dripping off the train platform). If you can look past that, there’s still the fact that as humans, we are not “planted” anywhere. We don’t have roots…we have legs. If a human is stuck in an unhealthy situation, a lonely city, or a dead-end job, she can use those legs and walk away. We don’t have to play the hand we were dealt. And I think a life led with that truth in mind will be much more beautiful than a flower blooming where it’s planted.

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