I was peeling an orange today (I know this sounds fascinating, but hear me out). It got me thinking about the diversity of life on this planet.
Yes, that’s me. Orange to biodiversity in four seconds flat.
Actually, I went from orange to flower to flowers, if we want to be accurate, and who doesn’t want accuracy?
Flowers definitely serve a biological function. They attract insects, which then fertilize other plants, leading to more plants. Or their seeds lead to more plants.
Fine, I accept that.
But why do they have to be beautiful? What biological purpose can the beauty of the flower serve?
Fruits are yummy because animals then eat them and scatter the seeds, but a person enjoying the aesthetics of a flower isn’t going to do that plant any good when it comes to passing on its genes. It may mean that we like to have them around, but I doubt that plants are calculating enough to know that if they produce a pretty bloom, we’ll plant more of them.
Of course, I’ve never talked to a plant, so I can’t say for sure that they aren’t.
I’ve wondered if maybe the idea of their beauty comes from somewhere within us, if it is just our connection to other living things, or if we are told that they are beautiful and so therefore, they are. As far the connections go, weeds are also living things, and we don’t always find them beautiful, so I lean more toward the idea that the beauty is in the telling.
Maybe we are like the insects, drawn to bright colors and beautiful scents, to the textures. Maybe they symbolize to us a time of abundance, of having rather than wanting, of extended daylight and shiver-free nights.
I wonder what a visitor to our planet (yes, we’re back to aliens again) would think of them, everywhere, put in vases, carefully cultivated in gardens. I wonder if that alien would find them beautiful. I wonder what the alien plants in his garden. If he has one.
I like to think he would.
Trying to understand the why of a flower is a little like trying to peep underneath the universe to see how it works, to see the gears turning.
Doesn’t stop me from contemplating it, though, while peeling an orange.