methods of perseverance

My brain feels like an ember. No flame presents itself, only a glowing burn that is too dangerous for me to touch. Flames are known for their brightness, their presence. They can light up miles of skyline and leave nothing but ruins. And while a flame can be snuffed out, it is the ember that must be destroyed to stop the burn. An ember the size of a fingernail can reignite a fire that can last for days. It will destroy everything in its path, making room for the new. It is hard for me to reach that fire. So often I sit and burn. 

I have spent my summer taking pictures of sunflowers. We have a community garden in walking distance of our home and they were a staple in many of the plots.
Their petals are my favorite shade of yellow but that is not the reason. They remind me of my father, his favorite. The flower I always choose to leave in his memory. That is not the reason either. Each time I am in the presence of a sunflower I am filled with awe. I do not believe in god but standing in the presence of a 12ft tall sunflower feels close to holy. They plant their roots deep and allow their stalks to grow tall and sturdy. It is in their nature to search for the sun. Even on cloudy days, their broad flower heads will face wherever the light is. Wherever the warmth is coming from. They stand as magnificently alone as they do amongst their peers. Gardens and fields filled with strength, pulling from the ground up. I want to be like them.

Back in March, when the lockdown first began, my mom brought over tiny terra cotta pot containing a planted sunflower seed. Her constant travel for work would not allow her to take care of it properly and she thought it may be a nice way for me to keep myself occupied. My thumb has never been too green. 

I began to care for it diligently, watering it and keeping it on the windowsill for sunlight. Leaves began to sprout through the dirt and I couldn't remember the last time I had so enthusiastically helped something grow - not even myself. Our regiment continued. Then there began a fluctuation in my care. Some days I was lazy, some days I didn't leave my bed.

A week or two would go by without me even paying attention to the tiny sprout. Despite reaching some dismal, wilted points, I always managed to return to it; to make sure I provided what was needed for the survival of the plant. Eventually there reached a point where it needed to be repotted. This came, subsequently or not, at a time where I didn't see much point in caring for myself, much less a plant. 

It would have been so easy to further neglect the flower and ultimately toss the tiny terra cotta pot into the garbage. But I didn't. I now look out my window and see that same flower, in a larger pot, blooming in full. Multiple flower heads framed by yellow petals opening wide in triumph. I look at my flower with such gratitude. Its current beauty exists in spite of my neglect. My current beauty exists in result of perseverance. I look at my flower and see what I could be. 

I have spent this year eager to ask others how they cope. I find inspiration in the way people present themselves to the world, within the world, and how they move past fear or shame. I want to learn about their embers. Are they left run their chemical course? Do they rage into fires?

And if they do, how do we differentiate between destroying and cleansing? In my mind I believe that if I keep asking these questions, I will find the answers. A move from a glowing smolder with a face that opens towards the sun. 
A sturdy stalk with roots that are too deep to burn. My mind will be drawn to a new kind of light. I will have fought for the things I need and the survival I deserve.