As with many of the lessons I have learned from my mother over the years, I don’t remember the full context of how this one came up in conversation. In life, she said, it is important to embrace our strengths and work on them. One should gravitate, for example, to a line of work that takes advantage of the strengths such that working is not a constant struggle. A person who is fascinated by and loves language should be the one pursuing linguistic work, not the person who can’t distinguish vedere from vinire.
I was reminded of that this morning when my supervisor spotted a small potted plant sitting on my desk. It did not look particularly healthy, though I have been trying to get some life back into it. A coworker had given it to me when she left the state for greener pastures, and I just couldn’t say no to her — though it seems I probably should have done so.
My supervisor pointed out that it was not really that difficult to keep a plant alive — and I was reminded of another thing that my mother once told me. She said that anything is easy as long as you know how to do it. To him, with horticulture clearly running in his veins, it was easy. For whatever reason — perhaps because I have no fondness for purely decorative plants — it just wasn’t easy for me.
I recognized through the sting of his words there was a bitter truth — that I had no business keeping the plant on my desk when I clearly had no genuine interest in doing the minimum to keep it healthy. The plant, so to speak, was a weakness for me — and yet I kept on spending time on occasion making efforts to keep it alive. Why? It was always too little, too late. Sometimes, my supervisor said, it was better to just toss a plant rather than keep up the pretense of taking care of it.
Embrace your strengths.