Lily: Microscopic Marine Algae

I got back from a buzzing trip to Vietnam yesterday. Still sleep deprived, I’m having the groggiest morning today. Without giving up on broad vision, I’ve decided that focusing on what I love that’s right under my nose is enough this morning. I was at my desk sorting through my arts supplies, as I was reminded of someone who, quite literally, adds color to my life. Lily. She claims her real name is Florence, but I’ll never be tricked into believing that. The colorful six-petaled bloom with its special ability to survive after being cut, loved by many for its beauty and fragrance; she’s most definitely a Lily.

Now Lily, she is everywhere. She’s in my desk drawers in all the little art supplies she has either got me, recommended to me, or introduced me to. In little things all around, like the fleece blanket she gave me last Christmas that I refuse to travel without. She’s in my children’s things; in the craft projects they’ve made together, or the dinosaur stickers she got my son that I begged (rather ineffectively) not be stuck on my things. She walked into my family and loves us as her own. She even loves my… I mean, our older sister enough to let her pick on her, even though she’d win a tougher fight in real life.

She brings everyone more joy than she ever intends to. It really isn’t part of her plan. I know her enough to affirm that all she wants is to show up and have a good time. Yet there she comes, throwing things off balance while bringing other things into balance in the most beautiful ways. And when she’s not with me she’s keeping up with all her other friends in the same way, with her most authentic and generous heart. Since she has just under a million friends, she’s not around most of the time. But don’t hear me wrong, she knows how to be present even through her absence. And despite being the life of all parties, Lily will always always show up on the hard days.

I see her footprints across different parts of my life. Even the places she hasn’t been invited to. Yet somehow, she knows that she is welcome and thinks it best to show up- certain that she belongs. And it’s true! I could never complain because her footprints aren’t muddy; they’re glow in the dark. I love her so much. And LOVE that she chooses to float around in my waters. Just like bioluminescent plankton, my waters light up with her in it. Yes, I am comparing her to the tiniest microscopic marine algae. Algae that is considered to be some of Earth’s most important organisms since they generate about half the atmosphere’s oxygen. They also happen to form the base of virtually every ocean food web. In short, they make most other ocean life possible. 

Despite my shortsightedness this morning, I can see what’s right under my nose clearly. Lily is phytoplankton. No, I will not take it back. While it may sound weird to some, Lily is going to love this analogy and is probably going to dedicate two whole pages in her bullet journal and make art about it. Phytoplankton. Marine algae that enable a balanced ecosystem in the sea. Phytoplankton. That help provide food and energy for zooplankton, krill, and other stuff that, in turn, feed the birds, whales and even humans. Bioluminescent plankton. That can make the mighty ocean glow. As her self-proclaimed big sister, I could not possibly be more proud of her because that’s exactly what Lily does. She shows up and she gives, and gives, and then gives some more. And to be honest, I don’t know how she does it! 

With that, I’d like to conclude this crash course in Marine Biology that you didn’t sign up for. Thank you for reading!

“When the big things feel out of control, focus on what you love right under your nose”. – Charlie Mackesy
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
(Incidentally, a book sweet Lily gave me.)

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