So usually when I talk to monsters or have long conversations with walls (or otherwise engage with my stucknesses in semi-wacky ways), there’s a lot of talking involved.


Because, you know, I’m that way. Verbal.

Not always necessarily all that articulate (see last sentence), but definitely word oriented as opposed to picture oriented.

You can imagine my surprise when non-visual me had a completely visual experience. An interesting and (potentially) useful one that I want to share with you.

Except that I’m used to reporting internal dialogue. Not drawing a picture with words.

So this is going to be experimental and possibly weird. Just so you know.

The rose.

The first thing I see is a rose.

It’s half open, half closed.

What do I know about this rose?

It wants open. It wants now. Because this rose is hot stuff.

Make no mistake. This rose is going to the top. This rose is Liza Minnelli in Cabaret. Unstoppable. Irrepressible.

But it can’t open more than halfway. Its energy might be unstoppable, but what do you know, something is stopping it.

What stops something from living out the thing it needs most?

I have to zoom out a bit to see what is blocking the rose from opening more fully and completely.

And it’s kind of a complicated rigged up contraption of wires and little poky bits.

Metal and sharp and rigid.

It’s not touching the rose, but if the rose tries to grow or expand, the little metal spikes contract inwards to block it.

The goal of a rose.

The goal (or maybe even the purpose) of the rose is to be glorious.

To celebrate being alive by being audaciously beautiful. By shouting from the rooftops.

“Would you look at this! I am a rose! Is that not the most fabulous thing in the entire world? Yes it is!”

That’s what the rose would say if this were not a surprisingly wordless visualization.

The goal of a barrier.

The goal (or the purpose) of the thing blocking the rose is to keep the rose from being glorious.

To prevent it from opening too wide or growing too big. To keep it where it is.


So there’s this conflict between the rose and the barrier. And negotiating internal conflict is kind of the thing I’m good at.

I go to ask the barrier what it needs.

But there are no words. Because I’m trapped in a visualization, which is the weirdest thing that ever happened to me. Well, not ever, but (ahem) at least in the last week or so.

My wordless question is wordlessly answered.

The barrier needs to protect the rose. The barrier knows that if the rose opens into its most glorious here-I-am state of fabulousness as it so desperately wants to do, things will go wrong.

Not really wrong, but it’s not good. It will just make the other flowers jealous. Also, people might come and try to pick the rose or take it away.

The barrier is the knight in shining armor. The Protector of the Rose. It’s on a mission.

And it doesn’t really care that its mission stifles the mission of the rose, because hey, it’s serving the rose in a deeper way.


We need a solution, I think to myself.

We need a way for the barrier to feel safe that it’s doing its job, while still allowing the rose to feel safe to do its glorious Liza Minnelli thing.

It’s all about safety. It’s about giving space and still having barriers. It’s about healthy boundaries.

And I’m wondering what to do, because I still don’t know how to navigate this wordless world. I don’t know how to insert myself into the picture.

But then, magically, the rose and the barrier find their own compromise.

That was unexpected.

The barrier, which had been tensing and flexing around the outside rim of the rose’s petals, began to climb down an invisible rope ladder.

It started folding in on itself until it came to rest in a circle where the stem of the rose entered the earth.

So there was still a barrier, just not to the growth of the rose.

The barrier had a new purpose, but really, it was the same purpose.

Instead of protecting the rose from growing into its glory, it was now there to protect the rose from being picked.

The rose, meanwhile, was expanding and stretching. Yawning after a deep sleep. Strutting its stuff. Taking over. Doing its sexy rose thing. Fulfilling its purpose.

And then I was done.

Stupid symbolism.

Once I could talk again, the first thing I said was this:

“The rose isn’t me, right? Because that would be so cheesy and ridiculous that I couldn’t stand it. Okay, fine. It’s me. But so is the barrier.”

Uh huh.

And so is the one who observes the rose and the barrier interacting.

And so is the one who loves them both.

And so is the one who resents them both and struggles with them.

And so is the one who thinks this is cheesy and ridiculous.

That’s just how it is.

Roses everywhere.

And then I saw that there were roses everywhere.

Inside of me. Around me. In the people I know. In the people I don’t know.

All of us going through similar internal struggles and wordless conversations. All expanding and stretching.


It was pretty cool, is all I’m saying.

The Fluent Self