Whoops. That was uglier than I’d expected.

I bought a new houseplant today, to replace the top-shelf plant that seems to be dead. Eager to place the fresh tendrils into their new home on the shelf, I reach into the soil to pull the plant out of the hanging basket it came in, so it can relocate to the beautiful ceramic pot that will be its supportive bowl from now on.

Rip. I feel-hear tiny roots ripping. Oops. Slow down. Gentle, now. Tug lightly. Rip. Oops. Rip. Oops.

The roots seem to be clinging to maroon walls of the plastic hanging basket. WTF? What are they sticking to? (And WHY would they stick to this cheap thing?) Can I get all of the soil and the roots out in one elegant movement?

Rip. Oops. Rip. Oops.

What had been a beautiful, tender houseplant when I picked it up from the store, now gazes sadly up at me (or so I imagine) from the “splat” of disarray — roots, leaves, and stems atangled, now resembling a wild jumble of disparate parts that revealed no obvious way to put them back together.

I’ve had my new plant for less than ten minutes and I’ve already killed it. I am a terrible plant mom. I didn’t know! I haven’t had houseplant training! It didn’t come with an instruction manual! Shit. Now what?

I pour fresh potting soil into the ceramic bowl, hoping that perhaps the miracle of dirt will reassemble, re-educate, re-support the teensy white roots that now dangle helplessly from my fingers.

One by one, I poke the stems and roots into the dirt, lamenting my incompetence. Flower arranging has never been my forte, but root-and-stem arranging now brings with it an unexpected arising of guilt.

The stems are now teetering precariously (or so I imagine) out of the black soil, still nowhere near the organized-by-nature perfect tangle of leaves that I’d chosen at the store. But they’re in. Maybe if I add some water, they’ll miraculously recover.

In humble apology, I place the ceramic pot by the window in the sunshine.

Sun, do your thing. Plant intelligence, please be bigger and stronger than my ineptitude. Nature, show me your self-organizing principles in action.

I sweep up the spilled potting soil and look down at the green leaves, silent in the sunshine.


Maybe it’ll be okay.

Maybe I didn’t do it wrong.

Maybe I don’t need to allow the guilt and incompetence story to smear the lenses of my perception, after all.

Maybe, for the last ten minutes, I’ve been playing out the great cosmic screenplay, a metaphor for existence in which wholeness seems to be unwittingly destroyed into seemingly unrepairable fragments, which then self-organize into a new whole that is even more resilient (and beautiful!?) than before, when allowed to rest in the light.


Maybe destruction and fragmentation — of plants, of people, of societies — are necessary catalysts for the “repotting” of us all.

I recall the moments (lots of ’em, the most recent being last week, in fact) in which I’ve felt like my tender “roots” have been ripped out from under me, as something larger than myself pulled me into a new “pot” that I can’t yet see. Fuck. Scary. I hated it. And yet some part of me knew there was something bigger at work that must — MUST — ultimately be trustable. (Please, God, let this be trustable.)

I’ve been the plant that was living a nice life, minding my own business in the pot I’d come to feel at home in. And then… Rip! But was it a “Rip. Oops?” Or was it a “Rip. Ahhh. Breathe, little one. Your beautiful new container is coming.”

Damn. Expansion is messy.

But just like I felt such eager enthusiasm to give my plant a new home, where it could be even more adored and cherished as an expression of beauty and new life in my home, maybe that’s cosmic and divine Love in action, too, helping us all to transplant ourselves into a context that supports our growth and expansion.

Maybe I just role-played “The Universe” in the imaginary psychodrama of my little plant, being The One That Can See The Bigger Picture and Really Doesn’t Mean To Kill You but It May Feel Like It For A Sec.

Maybe I’m like the plant that can’t see the beautiful ceramic pot yet, but instead of chilling out and being all Zen and plant-like in my upleveling, I apply the guilt and incompetence filters of my deeply-habituated expectation of doom. Whoops, that sucked, did it wrong, should’ve been different, damn I fucked that up, uh oh. Shit.

Maybe I’m in the midst of my own soul “repotting” in my life right now. No idea how it’s going to turn out, but I’ll keep an eye on my new houseplant to give me metaphorical clues. (Um… please don’t die, little one.)

Funny how just minutes ago I was looking down at the leaves with a vague sense of trepidation, hoping I hadn’t killed beauty, stability, and wholeness. Now the leaves sparkle in the sunlight, resting peacefully and strengthening (or so I imagine) in the nourishing black soil after their arduous adventure

Everything’s gonna be alright. There’s a bigger cosmic intelligence at work.

I think I’ll name the plant Cosmo.