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22 March, 2012

Talking to Plants and Other Such Nonsense

When I was nineteen and clean and sober just under a year, I received a spider plant as a gift. I watered it, cared for it and even talked to it. I had heard that talking to plants makes them grow. I was a theist at the time, it was before I went to college and I was just generally naive about a lot of things.

That spider plant got too cold one winter I was staying in an unheated, converted garage in snowy Pollock Pines. It was dead in a few weeks after having lived a good five or six years and I was sad. My great-grandma, who just passed away in February, gave me three babies from her spider plant shortly after this plant died. One of them had lived in a cup of water for the last two years because I didn't have a pot. I didn't talk to them. I don't know why, I just never thought of it.

My Gram passed away and I potted that third spider plant and bought four succulents in memory of my her. When I brought the plants home and positioned them around my living room, I picked up the aloe plant and began talking to it, just like I had talked to the spider plant years ago. I moved in closer so the plant could catch my carbon dioxide exhalation and "feel" the vibrations in my voice. Then I stopped in mid-sentence and looked at my husband.

"Talking to plants to make them grow has no basis in reason at all, does it?" I asked. He replied that it probably doesn't and that Myth Busters had already done a show about it.

It was surprising to me how I started talking to the plant without even really thinking about it. When I run into situations where I face some of the irrational beliefs I used to hold, I'm always surprised at my own mind.

Here I am, a skeptic, an atheist, what I consider to be a reasonable person, and yet there are still these contradictory beliefs that are hidden in my mind, existing at the same time as my disgust for homeopathy or any non-physicist who uses the term "quantum."

The moral of the story is just keep an open mind to your own flawed mind. Consider the things you've been told about the world around you and investigate. Never stop questioning, even of you are now an atheist or skeptic. After all, no one wants to be caught talking to plants.

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