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Rain, flowers and umbrellas


May 2022. It was a sunny and warm day in the Madrid spring. I went for a walk and I sat in a beautiful square to rest and looked at a flower shop. It caught my attention how that woman was touching those plants like pieces of art (and they are). She entered the store, and I was curious. I had the feeling that she was dialoguing with the flowers. So, I didn't hesitate to go there. I remember there was some classical music playing. I appreciated the different shape of those flower arrangements. They were somewhat unusual to me.


The weather outside darkened quickly and a torrential rain, typical warm weather rain, began to fall. Fortunately, it allowed us to talk even more, because I could not leave the place. What was once just an ordinary exchange between a florist and a customer, the dialog was able to gain more words, more presence, more exchanges. She offered me to close my eyes and smell some flowers, taught me how to plant some, told me about her childhood forest near where she lived, her love for her work and her desire for people to understand what she actually did, which is far from "putting" one flower on another to make a bouquet. She told me that she offered through flowers the most genuine feelings. The beauty of what one sees is equally potent with the feeling of the one who receives them, I thought.


At the end, she spontaneously says that on a rainy day in New York, an unknown man had lent her an umbrella. She wanted to make the same gesture to me. When I said I would come back the next day to return it, she replied that she would feel better if I could give it to someone else, so that the gesture of kindness could be multiplied. I returned a week later without the umbrella but felt like giving flowers to a very dear couple of friends who were hosting me. I wanted those flowers to talk to them about how grateful I was to have stayed there. Dialogues transform people. Transformed people inspire other people. This reminds me of Shotter, when he invited me to understand that dialog makes possible the so-called "suddenly", which comes from a way of acting that responds to the singularities of one's surroundings.


A fortnight ago, in an online therapy session, I was talking to my clients (a couple) about the surprisingly cold and rainy weather for this time of the year. One of them said that after he tried transparent umbrellas, he started to like rainy days. He asked if I had ever had that experience and started describing the difference it made. And then he told how it was to be able to see the city from another angle, crossed by the raindrops. Something almost poetic, like those cinematic scenes where the rain falls through the window and makes any landscape outside beautiful to see.


Rain, flowers, black and transparent umbrellas. The right moment, the other's openness to share. Mine to respond and delight me. It is necessary to look at the relational context as fertile contexts for conversation. Flower shops and umbrellas will never again have the meaning they had before. They carry stories, stories of people who, at that very moment, offered me a word, a phrase, a question, "the surplus of seeing", as Bakhtin said.

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