The value of opportunity

I have always loved plants. At first I just looked at them and watered them, but the pandemic and remote work gave me the opportunity to get much more involved with them and learn a lot of things that nature has to teach me.

Find out more about the value of opportunity with this gardening-related metaphor.

Juan Forero

Reading time: 3 min

Although at the beginning what I did was to take care of the garden we already had, after a short time I decided to plant. It is not the same to buy a bush in a nursery as to see it grow from a cutting or a seed.

The metaphor

In principle, accompanying the growth of anything from scratch until it bears fruit is an excellent metaphor for any project that touches us in our personal and professional lives. We start with high expectations of what we want to achieve in the future, but we always start small, step by step.

There are many parallels between sowing and the rest of life. Everything you plant requires more attention and care in the beginning. A seedling can be irreparably ruined by a few days of forgetting to water it. Every project in the beginning requires much more attention from us. It demands more attention to detail.

Of course, as the plant grows and develops, it may become more tolerant of forgetfulness, just as working groups and projects that are already underway may not seem to require our supervision. Some species such as cacti can live quite well with ‘weekend’ care and perhaps this is why we begin to give them less and less attention.

Among these low-maintenance plants we have at home what seems to me to be a mystery of nature: the so-called ‘Lady of the Night’ (Epiphyllum oxypetalum).

It is a plant of the cactus family, but has no thorns, likes to be in the shade and blooms spectacularly with an inflorescence of about 25cm in diameter that lasts only one night.

It usually opens at 9pm and reaches full bloom around midnight, closing completely the next morning.

In the movie Madly Millionaires there is a scene that really surprised me. Set in Shanghai, the main character’s family organised a big family gathering around the opening of the flower of this plant. It was placed in a living room and everyone stood around it to watch it open.

In addition to the fact that the flower is beautiful, its aroma is incredibly delicious. The curious thing is that the next morning it dawns withered and absolutely odourless.

A few days ago it happened to me that the bush put out a flower and the night it bloomed I fell asleep early and missed it. Hence the reflection on the value of opportunity.

My reflection

The Greeks had in their pantheon of gods the goddess Occasion, who rode on a fast-moving wheel, with long hair in front, but shaved completely at the nape of her neck. In this way the opportunity had to be seized at the moment it presented itself, because in passing there would be no way of catching it.

So it is with the lady of the night. You can water her and look after her as much as you like. You can even watch the bud develop little by little. But if you fall asleep on the night of the event, the next day you will be left with nothing. However, nature is kind and in a few months you may get another chance to enjoy it, while other opportunities in life simply won’t come around again, so keep some of that special attention we talked about at the beginning of this story.

Keeping some interest and monitoring the development of our projects, no matter how low maintenance they may seem, will put us in a position to recognise and take advantage of the opportunities that come our way.


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