ZZ Plants and Social Work Practice
When I first encountered ZZ Plants I didn’t like them. Maybe it was that reputation for how dry they like it, how slow they grow and that they’re really after all quite plain. The first time I saw a ZZ Plant in person was in a home depot standing amid snake plants covered in dust and water spots — $15, no thanks.
Fast forward a few months and on a plant buying spree, any plant person knows those, I ordered one online since it was cheap enough and I figured the worst case scenario, the ZZ plant could sit on my office, privy but silent to my sessions with clients and I’d hardly need to worry that I didn’t have a working sink anywhere near my office, what with their drought tolerance.
Lo and behold, the order came on a blustery March day. The peperomia I had ordered wilted into little thumbs smeared on the box, the lone philodendron bleached as a banana peel and covered in hard water spots, but then there was the ZZ plant.
Where the others fell frozen and flaccid, the ZZ remained chunky and crisp. The usually boring jade-green leaves stared back exotically behind their cling wrap. It was my first inclination to make some kind of allusion to a wild cat’s eyes but that just seems preposterous — anyhow — the ZZ plant survived.
The thick, desert tough stems withstood the cold, a shipping delay and poor packaging without losing a leaf.
If you got where I’m coming from yet, its this the idea of resilience. The ZZ Plant is resilient as heck and so are our clients. Its this reminder that even if we’re dealt unfair odds, even if we’re nearly crushed and dried out, we can still stand.
I think resilience is due for the sort of ubiquity that we’ve given to mindfulness. I hear mindfulness every where, I see it marketed everywhere, but rarely do I hear the importance of resilience and teaching clients to pull on their resilience and inherited wisdom. It’s resilience and not mindfulness that pulls you from that panic attack. It’s resilience that powers mindfulness and that which allows you to practice mindfulness.
Since Covid-19, I’ve not had a chance to work with my clients in person but I’ve been lucky to be able to continue working via video chat sessions. While I miss my office and my clients, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thankful that this time has allowed me to be around my plants as much as it has.
The ZZ plant, which I’d been led to believe is boring, is now this little reminder of resilience for me, and in true plant keeper fashion, I’ve now several more dotting my shelves, sitting firmly and dryly, but trusting in its resilience enough to spread those fronds and risk a leaf knocked off or two, because heck — she can take it. — Daniel Frazer, MSW