The touch-me- not plant, mimosa pudica, derives its name from a Latin word that means shy or shrinking. It closes at any touch, whether man or insect. I remember the first time I discovered the plant- way before I learnt about it in biology class, I was fascinated by it. In biology, it is one of the self preservative instincts that characterize life.
I used to be a “touch me not” homo sapien. I avoided any human contact especially any that had the potential of developing into a deep and meaningful relationship, both with males and females. I couldn’t bear to be hurt or betrayed or feel disappointment. I relied on no one and trusted no one. I spent most of my growing years and early adult life alone; it was safer that way, I wouldn’t hurt anyone nor be hurt by any. It was a no risk life. I had this iron wall around me that kept people out, and I kept the gate close always and didn’t allow anyone in.
Things began to change when I met this particular lady, who refused to be shut out; she cared enough to repeatedly knock on the door and when it wasn’t opening, scaled the wall and gained access to my heart. At first it was scary, I didn’t know what to do but then it began to feel good; letting someone in was not such a bad thing after all. I experienced the joys of sharing, of confiding in someone and bonding. I realized for the first time, how lonely I was, and that rather than living, I was hiding.
Next came the thing that I feared most- heart break. It was painful, and traumatic and almost unbearable. How did ‘honey’ turn to ‘wormwood’? I was reminded why I had shielded my heart from people all along. But as the hurt lessened, I began to reminisce on the happy memories and realized that those were the best days of my life. The pain I was experiencing was a confirmation of how much joy I had derived from sharing my heart with someone. It wasn’t anyone’s fault that hurt came by, it is an inevitable part of life, and that shouldn’t keep me from living.
So, I decided not to shirk or shrink or hide from human contact; I wasn’t going to be allow the fear of getting hurt deprive me of experiencing the joys of sharing and fellowship. I wasn’t going to close my heart or build a wall around me; I would be accessible and I would give people a chance to know me and be involved in my life, and I in theirs.
Now, I have great friends, who I will forever be grateful that I met. They have contributed immensely to my life; I am a much better person because of their influence. I can’t imagine not having them in my life. Yes, I have been hurt many a times, I have been disappointed (luckily, not been betrayed) and felt pain from the people that I allowed in but that’s what makes it more satisfactory; the pain makes the joys meaningful, and I learn from them. The truth was I wasn’t living when I hid away my heart, I merely existed. Now, I have a chance to impact and contribute to people’s lives and I can have mine influenced positively. It’s such a beautiful thing.
Hiding away isn’t always better than opening up. The hibiscus flower allows its nectar to be sucked by bees and in the process, its pollen are harvested and propagated leading to cross pollination and the breeding of healthier offspring which resist extinction. It is bright and colorful, and lends a cheer to any environment it is found in.