I have five rose rushes in pots in my yard. It is interesting to watch the way they grow (or don't). Now these were rescue rose bushes - I got them in one of those very cheap way-too-late for bare root roses sales. I looked at all the ones that were available and picked the ones that had some signs of growing or trying to grow.

I think watching the five rose bushes grow is a good analogy for life and how people choose to live it. Of the five rose bushes, despite good care, watering and fertilizer, one of them didn't even try to make it and died within days. It just plain gave up, for it had plenty of green, and it could have chosen to grow, but for whatever reasons, it didn't even give it a try.

I took it back and the store let me pick out another one, so again, I brought it home and gave it the same treatment. This one didn't look THAT promising - it had two spindly little greenish-white twisted branches coming out, but somehow I felt good about it. I wasn't wrong either because it took in all the water, the fertilizer, and everything it could get and it put out the largest leaves and healthy red-green leaves, and lots of them too. It is really pumping to grow with everything it has. The leaves and stems are quickly reaching up as if to catch every drop of available sun. This rose bush is not only going to make it; it is going to outpace all the other ones as if in a race to be the biggest and strongest.

One of the rose bushes has green on the trunks and it looks healthy, but it is as though it hasn't made up its mind whether to grow or not. It just sits there with its green trunk but it hasn't even tried to put out any branches or leaves. It almost feels as though it is waiting for someone else to do its work.

Another of the rose bushes was green, and it sort of sat there for awhile, and then finally decided to grow. It took a longer time, malingering day by day, seeming a little hopeful as it held onto its green for a long time, but then it finally just gave up without ever even trying.

Still another one is trying too, but it is a timid little thing. It too had the greenish white branches, and it is putting out little sweet leaves, but keeping them close to the trunk. It is growing, but slowly, as if not quite sure of each step it takes like a baby that is trying to take its first steps but has to hold onto the wall for security. It doesn't know how to trust its own self to make it .

The final rose is taller than the rest in its trunk, but it has just put out one spindly branch and it has leaves, but only a couple and it is growing so slowly that I often forget to look at it to see how it is doing because my eyes are drawn to the most robust of all of them and how truly hard that one is trying.

I always think about these roses when I think about the challenges I hear that people are having in their lives and the ways they handle them. I think about the ways they chose or chose not to go on and live no matter what the circumstances. Like that robust rose bush with its huge leaves reaching out to grab everything it can to live fully, it was a trash rose to start out with as all of these were, but it will go forward and it will make it in life. No one who sees it will ever imagine that it was once a trash rose. Even if this rose didn't get regular watering and fertilizer and a lot of good sun, I have this feeling that it would be the kind of rose that would grow between cracks in pavement, without benefit of any water except for the rain and whatever nutrients came its way naturally. It really wants to live and nothing will stop it as long as there is even just a little trunk and roots left.

What kind of rose bush would you be in this life?

Author's Bio: 

Anne Copeland was graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in archeology and a minor in English. Following her graduation, she worked for several small newspapers, a small magazine, Freedom Today, and she served as a construction news reporter.

She met anthropologist Spencer Heath MacCallum in 1975 and they were married. Spencer had discovered some unknown potters in Mata Ortiz, Mexico, and Anne worked with Spencer for eight years, helping him with his work in Mexico and in the United States to promote the potters and arrange for traveling exhibits for them. Today Juan Quezada and the potters of Mata Ortiz are internationally famous, and the village has grown from 8 potters to more than 400 making their living in some form of Mexican art.

In 1984, Anne wrote and self published a pumpkin cookbook of more than 250 pages including history, folklore, growing hints, nutrition, and of course, recipes. The book was re-edited and self republished in 2009 as an E-book.

Anne became a certified appraiser of quilts in 1993, and in 1994, she and her appraisal partner, Beverly Dunivent, wrote a book and a research paper on the history of the kit quilt industry. The American Quilt Study Group accepted the paper in 1994, and the two ladies went to Birmingham, Alabama to present it. It was published in the AQSG's 1994 journal, Uncoverings. Although the book was read by a number of publishers, it was considered too specialized at that time, but is now in process of being re-edited and may be self published with many photos. Anne is widely published in many quilt magazines, and in the magazine Freedom Today (now out of print). She also lectures on various quilt-related and appraisal topics and gives workshops on quilt restoration and repair, and on putting together old tops and blocks. She has also written several children's stories that are in process.

She has had many successful careers: a graphic design and typesetting business, a quality assurance auditor and quality assurance manager consultant business, an open network, and a creativity coaching business. In 2003 she started a small nonprofit, Fiberarts Connection of Southern California, to provide professional development for physically challenged and emerging artists. In the first year of operation, Anne curated a traveling exhibit of some 127 pieces of fiber arts from all over the world. That exhibit had 10 live venues in California and throughout the U.S. The nonprofit continues to function today. Anne works as a paraeducator for special needs children and is a volunteer with Elder Wisdom Circle, an online nonprofit where elders offer advice for those seeking it. Anne is a practicing professional fiber artist and also works in mixed media, watercolors, and acrylics. She is active with a number of art organizations.