Yes, I am.
Houston’s techno-bio–geeko-twitterati — myself among them — has been glued to their computer screens even more than usual, held in thrall by Lois, the exotic and endangered tropical plant. Lois is a rare and large “Corpse Flower,” so named because of the stench of decomposing flesh that issues from the blossom. Lois is potted in the Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences. Her claim to fame is that there are so few of her species, and they bloom so seldom — only 28 times since 1939, reportedly– that Lois’s imminent flowering is an event.
What is so interesting about a big, stinky plant? Lois is captivating. Disturbing. Every “Attack of the Pod People” and “Aliens” fantasy or joke you can think of, all rolled into one. She is gradually turning a deep shade of bruise-tone purple, and the stink factor is apparently a big draw. To add to the fun, Lois has her own Twitter account — the microblogging service that gives real-time updates on everything from terrorist attacks around the world to the status of your friend’s hangover. Lois has a personality. Apparently she is PMS-ing, and she’s got a dirty mouth. She is also camera-shy and reluctant to go ahead and bloom with all eyes watching. She has informed us that plants don’t really like to be talked to, thank you — and that they, or she, at least, really needs someone to bring her an espresso first thing in the morning.
The museum’s web cam has gotten so many hits that many people have been unable to load the images. The museum stayed open until midnight last night to accommodate the curious who anticipated a late-Sunday-evening unfurling, and now they will stay open around the clock — that’s right, 24/7 — this is a museum, mind you — until Lois does her thing.
I’m several days into what has become known as “Funkwatch,” and my attention is bordering on the obsessive. I still see clients and take care of business, but at every break I am checking the twitter feed and reading more about Lois and her kind. This event is taking up ALL of my “spare attention:” that is, any extra bandwidth that is not devoted to the bare minimum of daily survival. I’ll be heading back to the museum this evening for another look at Lois — after all, I’ve been talking to her all day!
Lois is providing a lot of humor, entertainment, and education in return for my attention. That rapt attention, the ability to engage with something for a long period of time, the playfulness all create the conditions for learning, and for change and growth. I’m not just talking about Lois putting on another four inches of height each day. I’m talking about how learning, at its best, brings out the best in us. Sometimes the growth process, or the blossoming, doesn’t happen on schedule, or in some other way you expected. That can stink. But it’s worth hanging in there.
IN a too-good-to-be-true twist, Houston’s own Miller Outdoor Theater, right down the street from HMNS, is now performing — wait for it — Little Shop of Horrors. Gotta love how things work out.
Maybe I’ll see you at the HMNS tonight! May we all blossom and grow, like Lois.
Follow @hmns and @CorpzFlowrLois on Twitter.