If I had a flower for every time I thought of you… I could walk through my garden forever. – Alfred Lord Tennyson
What does that mean?
While I couldn’t find the book or poem this is from, nor the words missing from the middle, if the BBC says it’s one of Tennyson’s best quotes, it can’t be wrong, can it? Can anyone help out?
The quote is talking about a person who is thinking of someone they love. They are making a comparison between how often they think of their love and flowers, wanting a flower for each time the thought of their love crossed their mind.
That leads to a question, how many flowers would they have? They answer that obliquely by saying that they would have a garden (a British term for a flower-filled area with walking paths or seating) which would go on forever.
That sounds like a lot of flowers. Which is, by the definition in the first section, quite a lot of thoughts. I think this quote is saying they are thinking about them a lot.
Why is thinking, but not obsessing about someone important?
There is a fine line between loving someone a lot, and an obsession. To the person who is being loved or obsessed over, it’s usually quite clear and easy to see. To the person who thinks they are in love, but are actually obsessive, it might not be possible to see the difference.
And that is a shame. Because when you are obsessed, it’s not really love. Nothing even close. Yet the person cannot understand the difference. Stalking is another word which fits this type of dysfunctional feeling. If you know someone like this, help them to seek the help they need.
For the rest of us, thinking of our loved one(s) is a very pleasant day-dream. Hopefully we don’t let it get out of hand and interfere with our daily routine. And that, I believe is where the line between being healthy and being obsessed is drawn.
Where can I apply this in my life?
We all have people in our lives whom we love. While the quote is most likely about a lover (or someone who they wish were their lover), I believe the quote can be applied to others whom we love.
When we are younger, it might apply to a favorite family member, an uncle or aunt, or perhaps one of your grandparents. Or perhaps many different people from your family. It might even be a sibling, or even your parents, at different points in your youth.
As we get older and into romantic relationships, it can be our crush of the week, or our steady date. Until that crashes, and we find a new one. While these can be tumultuous times, they can result in a lot of flowers being added to our garden, if we don’t tear them all out when the relationship ends.
For those who have them, kids are another source of nearly limitless flowers. Yes, sometimes the thoughts we are thinking aren’t the kindest, if they have been disobedient, but they are still flowers of love. No matter, we still think of them, over and over and over.
And for those lucky enough, there are grandchildren. If you’ve ever seen a couple old ladies pull out the photo books and start bragging about their grandchildren, you can practically smell the flowers, can’t you? Or is that pushing the quote a little too far?
The point of this post, and of the quote, is to cherish and remember each moment with those we love. Much of my garden is full of flowers from people who now exist only in the garden and in my heart. Others exist in my garden but are no longer part of my life.
I choose to cultivate these memories, these thoughts, despite what else may have happened, or how those relationships might have changed over time. I have very few bald patches in my garden, and am always happy to add a little more space for additional flowers.
What about you, how does your garden grow?
- List of Romantic Sayings and Quotes (loveforums.wordpress.com)
- Garden planning: how to plant combinations of flowers Dan… (lapandadecina.wordpress.com)
- If I Had a Flower… (manipulatedcells.wordpress.com)
- On Love and Lightness of Heart (s3pia.wordpress.com)