Gratitude for a Late Bloomer

I read this morning that the best “cure” for impulse buying is a sincere gratitude for what you already have.  And if there is a week to curb impulse buying AND to be grateful, this coming week is traditionally it!

And, without even trying too hard, I have had several surprises this past week, for which I am really grateful.

  • ·         I remembered that I already owned the Billy Childs (who is 57, by the way) album, Autumn: In Moving Pictures, for which I was again ready to lay out hard-earned cash. 
  • ·         A woman in Walmart saw that I had stupidly left my purse on a counter and turned it in to customer service within five minutes with everything intact.
  • ·         Even though my shoulder has been hurting, I swam today and discovered that those upper back muscles I’ve been trying to strengthen with the wide resistance bands have apparently kicked in: they took SO MUCH pressure off my shoulder I could hardly believe it!
  • ·         And two days ago, my old (and I mean OLD) hibiscus plant that had been sunning on the porch all summer with nary one bloom, did this:

 I cannot tell you how happy I was and how I chortled to that plant like a proud grandparent.  So many of my houseplants have been rescued from curb-side so, as with rescued dogs, you never quite know what you’re getting. But this one bloomed in November—the only blooming thing in sight.

 It made me start to think about late bloomers in general.  We all know that Anna Mary Robertson Moses started painting in her 70s (because embroidery aggravated her arthritis). 

Winter Wallpaper

Norman Maclean published A River Runs Through It when he was 74.

Wallace Stevens, about whose use of metaphor I wrote my doctoral dissertation, didn’t start to write seriously until his 50s.  (He worked in an insurance company most of his life. When his colleagues finally learned that he was a published poet, they exclaimed, in disbelief, ‘Wally??’)

I was especially humbled this week after listening to Stefanie Jacob and Teresa Drews perform so athletically and emotionally Tuesday night. At my lesson Friday (another thing for which I’m thankful), like the good teacher she is, Stefanie acknowledged what she tactfully called my “different learning curve,” and indicated that I have made “progress” in emotional expression over the past few years. So today I returned to the laborious process of memorizing some of the Bach Partita I will play at next April’s scholarship audition: trying first for finger memory; then, when that fails, sound; and finally the realization that the note that kept tripping me up was, in fact, a D#. Learning a piece is a decidedly unemotional process for me.

Virginia Bell, whose blog appears in the Huffington Post (Post 50), today wrote something entitled  “It’s Never Too Late to Be a Late Bloomer.”  She starts by saying, “Late bloomers are a special breed and often misunderstood. They can appear ridiculous to the rest of the world as they pursue some private dream or else bounce from one profession to another. In the end, they have a longer road and a tougher climb for it requires tremendous faith, courage and an iron will to keep going, especially when there’s no tangible success. In a way they are like the stubborn, dogged plants that thrive in unlikely places under harsh conditions; they are the desert flowers, the indomitable trees pushing through city sidewalks and vacant lots [like my abandoned hibiscus].”

She ends her thoughts with this: “ …we all have our own individual timing and like flowers, we bloom at different seasons. What’s essential is to honor that timing and trust the process no matter how long it takes or where it leads. Sometimes that process is a direct route on a well-paved road but other times the road is filled with pot holes and detours. Maybe some people need longer to marinate and mature because they aren’t just developing their craft or skill; they are also growing into the kind of person who can carry that gift into the world. Perhaps, in the end, it’s not so important when we bloom but who we become along the way.”

So we come back to my beautiful, late-blooming hibiscus, whose blossom is even more special because it took so long, though, of course, like all blossoms, it will not last long at all.

I will end with the last few lines of one of my poems, “Sonata,” which is all about late blooming:


A woman, playing

alone, composes

herself, knowing

there is always more

to draw upon.


Early or late

makes no difference.


Space, and time, and

limitation, and failure,

are means.


To see that truth

is to see

the gate in the wall,

sequel, reassurance

there is yet more,

like flight,

to pull from impossibility,

from inaudible frequencies,

into the reach

of real.

One thought on “Gratitude for a Late Bloomer

  1. Hey, Kathleen, I love your blog. At the risk of seeming like an old dinesaur, can you tell me how I can "follow""it? Can a person have it popped into,their facebook or email? You should publish these musings; you'd become rich and famo us. Let me know how you and your tribe are.


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