Thursday, May 28, 2009

Our house plant: another metaphor

Yesterday, I was watering Bob (our house plant) when I discovered something alarming -- one of his most brilliant leaves fell off. I was troubled by this, especially given that in a post last month, I proclaimed Bob to be hearty and healthy. This dead leaf caused me to question everything: Could this be a sign that Bob is not healthy after all? How am I going break the news to Bob's many fans? And, what about Bob? Is he going to be ok?

These all appear to be valid concerns, especially given the history of the aforementioned leaf. The leaf was one of Bob's best for the longest period of time. Bob owed a great deal to this leaf, and he just cast it aside. Without that leaf, Bob wouldn't be Bob. We might have had to name him Bo. Casting this leaf aside must mean that Bob is sick. What are we to do?

Was there something I did to bring on this sickness? Maybe I watered Bob too much. Maybe too little. It could have been that I didn't talk to Bob enough or give him enough love. Maybe I need to rotate Bob more often so that all of his leaves can get sunlight. Am I being unfair to some leaves by favoring others?

Maybe Bob needs a stimulus. Here's an idea: how about I reattach the leaf to Bob? At the same time, I should apply some Miracle Gro to fortify Bob's other leaves. This will be tricky, but it might be worth it because Bob owes so much to this leaf. My thoughts could run on from there, but I think that anyone who understand's economics (or botany) sees the absurdity of this line of reasoning.

Leaves come and go. Some are spectacular. Some are unremarkable. Despite the fact that he sometimes sheds leaves, Bob is still a thriving, healthy plant.

My evidence? Bob may have lost one aging leaf, but as this happened, Bob was growing in other areas. In particular, Bob now has five young new leaves that are really starting to look good. If I were to try to save the big dead leaf by reattaching it to Bob, I would compromise the health of all of the other leaves. And, that would really be a shame.

Some people might say that it is worth it to save the leaf that has been with us from the beginning, that all of the leaves are in this together, that casting aside a respected old leaf undermines our purpose as leaves, or that "the country that invented the automobile will not abandon it."

To these people, I say two things. First, in the long run, do you really think we can save the dead leaf? Second, look at the beautiful new leaves on our houseplant. Do you really think it is worth killing the young leaves to save the old one?

1 comment:

  1. One would expect better from an economist! You have had several posts concerning another (more profitable) plant and yet you pick a boring...what is that, an acalypha wilkesiana macafeeana? Finally, what does a fella gotta do to get a plant named after him? "Here is our plant, Scott Thomas Selk, leader of all and bows to none, junior."

    Holla 'atcha boy!


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