I am drawn to duality. The prolific Igbo author Chinua Achebe once described its importance in this way ‘where something stands something else will stand beside it. Nothing is absolute.’ Seeking a second point of view is essential for life. The intricate and deep structures that inform us are rarely examined when you take a first look. But when you examine anything closely, when you give it a second glance, a second read, a second look, it’s true meaning will be illuminated. It for this reasons I am forever drawn to nature. Every plant we encounter is full of dualities. They produce multiple meanings when you take a closer look, a closer smell, a closer feel. There are no permanent answers with any plant too. No permanent questions. No permanent solutions as everything is subject to change quite literally, season after season. It’s for this reason that I ask that you keep fragrant plantain lilies in mind. They are prime examples.

Fragrant Plantain Lilies

Not only are they a thing of beauty, but their apple green leaves with creamy white edges personifies the world duality for me. On one hand these plants are just that, plants like many you will see now during the Spring season. These fragrant plantain lilies are scattered all over the front of my house now. The prior owners of our home took gardening to another level. I remain grateful as I am clueless when it comes to plants. But this fragrant plantain lily is one to watch. I was hooked from the name personally as I absolutely adore edible plantains. To know this word as lilies and in my garden makes me smile. In terms of make up, it is also an ornamental plant whose plants deliver fragrance when they bloom sometime in July or August. Apparently come July, these plants will begin to display huge white trumpets that are essentially lilies with a sweet fragrance. Their Japanese name is ‘Yu-Lei’ which means white fairy. For now, even looking at the plants brings a smile to my face. But it’s duality as both plants and flowers is what I choose to keep as it bears many semblance to my dual roles as a mother and a professor.

Fragrant plantain lilies.

On one hand my days are full of diapers and tears. These days erupting tooth and growing pains of transitions from infants are the norm. That and the gift of watching my son transition from crawling to walking. This duality makes me smile as he keeps making great strides everyday with perfecting the art of walking as with this video below.

We are walking!

By day and night I am also a researcher, one passionate about research that lasts. It’s why I remain drawn to writing grants as it helps me address one fundamental reason why research never lasts and it’s the lack for funds. But what if we have funds and then draft our research in ways that ensure that they remain. Another duality, subtle but there when you begin with the end in mind even for research grants or interventions you carry out. I adore this new focus on duality. One that I am grateful to plants like fragrant plantain lilies for teaching me this Spring season. Keep them in mind as well babies crawling and walking and mothers working as researchers.

DMX once shared the following, ‘if and when you ever fall down, get back up…and if you fall down eight times, get up nine.’ By now, you may know that this legendary man with a gift with words has transitioned from this world to the next. I spent most of my yesterday reminiscing about him, about his impact, about his gift. Here was a man truly talented in all sense of the word. That he used words to make sense of his world is profound to me. And of all I saw and read about him yesterday, his focus on getting up after a fall is sterling to me. He spoke also from experience. He lived a life that included falling down, but also getting up. ‘Get up, get up and try again’ was a constant message he shared to anyone who cared to listened. I did.

My baby prepares to walk!

And the universe knew I was. While watching his videos, the very act of falling down but getting up was happening in my home via my baby. I have now captured all my children as they took their first steps. It’s one of those things that makes me smile. To see the first step forward, the first walk forward, for a life that is destined to include many first steps. Something about a baby’s first step keeps me hopeful, keeps me inspired and clearly personifies what X meant by if and when you ever fall, get back up again.’ That and the fact that all my babies, all of them fall down fast immediately after their first act of standing up straight, their first attempt to walk. The lesson of a step, a fall, but then get up and step and fall is profound to me. Invariably life will be full of steps and full of falls but what we do next is all that matters. From my babies, they keep stepping no matter how many times they fall. They keep walking forward, no matter how many times they still fall. They keep getting back up, no matter how many times they fall. I want to keep this lesson here today. They fact that a fall will be inevitable every time you take a first step. But keep stepping, keep walking forward, keep getting back up too no matter what causes you to fall. And if it includes ‘falling 8 times, get up the 9th’ as DMX would say. May his soul Rest In Peace. Amen.