I'm not quite sure how it happened, but I became quite friendly with this cactus today. I was doing my daily walking up and down the isles of Home Depot's garden center, looking for something to put in the place of the plant that I relocated. This particular cactus caught my eye. I loved that it was so green, and seemed full of life. Growing up, we always had some of the typical desert cactus around, which my mother loved to cut up and cook. I could never see the beauty in the cactus, and completely disliked it's taste. Some things are definitely not for me. But this cactus looked a kindred spirit of sorts.
By all appearances it looked like something different. A quick glance at it, and one might confuse it with some kind of fern. It had such a delicate shape, almost perfect in it's spread of pointed shoots. It made me want to get close to it, and to reach for it with my hands. It seemed safe enough. Yet, as I moved in closer, and reached for it, I was struck by such pain. Every beautifully shaped sprout, ended with a sharp needle. Ouch! Try to get too close, and you will be hurt.
As I took a second look at the cactus, I began to wonder what use it found in it's sharp needles. Were these needles there to keep people out? Don't get too close to me or you will feel my pain. Maybe the needles were just a defense mechanism. I can't let you too close to me, something bad might happen. Deep inside, I am too vulnerable, so I wear this armor to protect myself.
In some ways, the life of a cactus can seem so lonely. Just by it's nature, it doesn't seem to need much from anyone. It is quite capable of storing what it needs, and can survive on it's own for quite some time. Yes, it has it's place in the garden, but pretty much keeps to itself. It has done a good job of keeping others away. I'm not sure if it is waiting for that right plant, be it another cactus or not, to come along, and not feel intimidated by it's thorns. And although some might be put off by it's sharp edges, it must be respected for it's ability to adapt to extreme situations.
If I were a cactus, I would likely just keep to myself. I would position myself in a nice spot in the garden, so that I could occasionally benefit from being around other plants. The problem, of course, would be living with the reality that should I allow another cactus to get close to me, I would definitely be opening myself up to pain. Theirs, and mine.