So what have you to say for yourself? Well? Mmm???
There I was, trembling before a judge who looked terrifyingly like Alice’s Red Queen of Hearts, while she hurled questions at me with a dagger-like finger. Before us on the evidence table languished exhibit A, a decidedly unwell phalaenopsis orchid.
Its leaves were shrivelled and drooping; and blow me down if the poor thing didn’t have eyes! What’s more, they were aimed accusingly in my direction. I don’t want to give you nightmares with the image, so here is a happier specimen in the picture below.
But let me go back to the beginning. A random remark made over breakfast this morning broke the membrane of a dream I had last night. We were discussing our innate human tendency for passing judgement; often without knowing all the facts.
You must have caught yourself doing the same thing? That woman bending over in the teeny, tiny short skirt – what was she thinking?! Or the weight-challenged fellow hoeing into a super-sized burger and chips, chased down with a mega doughnut and coke? My hand slides surreptitiously to my slightly lesser-sized stomach in silent gratitude – or is it self-congratulation?
But, back to my dream. The thing was, the judge didn’t have all the facts. She wasn’t aware of the circumstances that brought a loving gardener and her abject failure to this point. She didn’t know I had unwittingly brought the plant inside at a crucial state of its flowering. She didn’t know my intentions were not malicious; that I simply wanted to celebrate the glory of the little plant by showing it off.
So, I pled ignorance.
The Red Queen wasn’t having any of it. ‘Ignorance is no defence – no excuse!’ she boomed. I cringed, waiting for the ‘Off with her head!’ which would surely come next.
But my eggs and bacon with rye toast arrived instead and I was back in the present. The person at the next table was talking loudly and eating off his knife. But who am I to judge?
When I saw the gorgeous specimens above from my buddy’s collection, I realised the Red Queen was at it again. But this time she was me, and I was passing judgement on myself.
My inner dialogue about my friend’s prowess went something like this: ‘Seriously, what is she doing that I’m not? Her thumbs are definitely green.’ And let it be clear, so was I, albeit of a more envious shade! I was obviously falling far short of my own expectations. It seems we’re not discriminating about who we pass negative judgements on.
I’d been reminded of my shortcomings in an unusual way. If dreams are a portal into the subconscious mind then I clearly have some reflective work to do.
My poor orchid still teeters on the brink of existence, but I have hopes and dreams to do better.
Failures are opportunities to learn. The next time I catch the Red Queen in my dreams, I’ll ask her to consider all the facts before she deigns to pass judgement.
Perhaps I could also take that good advice and temper my own judgemental gaze.
“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”
― Lewis Carroll,