The word “nurture” is often used as the antithesis of “nature”, as if it is artificial, a forceful intervention. This weekend, I watched two of my couple friends, one with their 3-month old baby and the other with a 2 year old toddler, care for their child. I think of “nurture” instead as “care”. To nurture is to care, and vice versa. It is to give labour to looking after the welfare of another, to give attention to what will best help or serve another. It is not artifice. It is not the imposition of your own will. Because we often cannot determine the outcome of our “nurture” and “care”.  

It is now midnight and I have just spent the last hour watering several sets of plants, and changing the water for some cut leaves and flowers. I remember J sometimes “complaining” to me how much work is involved in looking after his plants - a complaint I mostly ignore because “Eh, you asked for it what.”. I empathise more fully with him now. It is a lot of work indeed - not that it takes up large tracts of time or that it is terribly difficult. By work I think he meant that it requires a lot of care. It is that mixture of labour and attention, and the desire for something or someone to grow, to thrive - knowing that your labour and will are necessary but not sufficient, you cannot control the outcome, still. 

As I was watering the plants, I realised this pair of fresh lilies a friend had given me today was like a pair of dried anthuriums by the floor (the anthuriums were white but had turned a surprising blood red when dried). So I placed them together. Their forms are almost similar with their sensuous Mapplethorpe-ish folds. Even if I change the water regularly in the bottle for the fresh lilies, add ice or paracetamol or whatever it is, the fresh lilies will eventually fade. If I cared, I could still labour to preserve its beauty. But I still cannot determine its eventual form and colour - I cannot stop its eventual fading.


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