It’s just after Valentine’s Day as I write this and the main photo is a Chinese Valentine bouquet. As you can see, the Chinese are an immensely practical people, and the bouquet also conveys an important truth – what we eat affects our health. An interesting Chinese cultural insight is that guests usually bring gifts of food when they visit, rather than the chocolates, wine, or flowers which are common in Australia.

Anyway, just before Valentine’s Day I had the privilege of visiting a rose-breeding farm where they breed many varieties of roses. The gardens were fragrant, full of spectacular blooms of varieties I had never seen before, many of which would soon be cut for sale at markets and shops before Valentine’s Day.  Interestingly, a lot of the roses that we buy on Valentine’s Day are now grown cheaply overseas, which is a challenge for local growers.

The family who owns the business are third generation rose breeders. Their passion and knowledge about roses emerged in everything they said. I was reminded of the first time I met the owner: we were both visiting his sister in hospital and I had brought her a bunch of roses. He looked at them, sniffed deeply, and said, “From South Africa. Lovely.” I didn’t realise that roses were his passion, so I was rather surprised at this comment.

Anyway, I learned that rose-breeding is a lot like Traditional Chinese Medicine, and roses are a lot like our bodies. Let’s look at some similarities:-

  1. Roses thrive in the right conditions (water, nourishment, care) and don’t do so well if you ‘feed’ them badly. Our bodies also need the right food, plenty of water and vitamins, as well as some care and attention if they are going to thrive.
  2. The general public do not see many of the unique new breeds of roses because the buyers aren’t interested. Every person is unique, but unlike roses we’re not dependent on buyers to determine whether we have a valuable contribution to make to the world. We are intrinsically valuable so we need to look after ourselves.
  3. It takes about 5 years of design, nurture and care to develop a new rose variety. Whether we’re working on our physical health, our mental or emotional development, or any other creative venture we need to give ourselves time to succeed.

Along the way, don’t get so caught up in where you are going that you forget to enjoy the beauty and joy around you.