Pansies are ironic. Their name is associated with weakness, but as I look out my window and see a pretty-little pansy being lashed about by fierce winds, I think it’s tough. We Americans have settled on the name “pansy” for the little flower, but it has had many names (viola tri-color, heartsease, Johnny-jump-up just to name a few), and it is rich in folklore (including stories of selfish step-mothers; the sorrow, remembrance and idleness of love lost; and prosperity brought to homes along with Spring bouquets). That sounds like a strong floral constitution to me. Retirement provides me with the time to consider the constitution of flowers. I never once contemplated flower constitutions while working. Contemplating flowers is another reason that I love retirement.
Being alone is filled with irony. Sometimes it’s liberating and empowering. There is no one to complain when you sing loudly and off-key while you’re alone. You can watch whatever you want on the television. You can eat whatever you want whenever you want (except for the couple of weeks prior to scheduled lab work for upcoming medical appointments). When you’re alone and retired, you can go to bed when you want (here’s some irony though, that doesn’t mean you can go to sleep when you want, or stay asleep as long as you want – darned aging bladders), and get up when you want (unless your bladder determines otherwise). Here’s where it gets ironic: say you’re watching a hilarious television show that you alone chose to watch, but there’s no one there to laugh with you. That feeling of empowerment can quickly shift to a feeling of isolation. Isn’t that ironic?
I have mentioned before that I was an extremely awkward, self-conscious, odd child. I could not bring myself to say pansy when referring to the flower, because I knew that some people used that word to disparage others. I did not want to disparage a flower or a person. I liked both people and flowers and would not want to behave in a hurtful manner towards either. I also greeted bugs with a cheerful, “hello,” except bugs that could bite or looked really gross. I was odd, but nice and cautious.
As an adult, I proudly identify with the pansy: I’ve withstood many an emotional and economic storm; I bloom in cooler weather, and wither in the heat. I still prefer to treat people nicely. It makes me feel good. There’s nothing ironic about that.
It’s time for me to go out to my backyard and restrain and secure the outdoor furniture that is dancing wildly in the wind. While I’m out there, I’m going to say “hello” and “thank you” to the tough pansies that inspire me and make me smile. I’m not alone. I have flowers, Cinnamon, and a telephone. Life is good.