Thursday, June 3, 2010

The storm and the Tall Poppy Syndrome!

Two days ago a brief, wild storm with torrential rain blew through our
neighborhood.  With quiet restored I looked out to see how had the poppies  fared? Not well.
That plant I had been watching for days was now lying on its side, totally knocked down by the storm.  I was reminded of a piece of Australiana (my country of origin) which pervades the culture in a way that many people
find negative and non beneficial in any way.
It's called The Tall Poppy Syndrome.
The analogy has to do with "what happens to tall poppies?" - the answer being  either they get their heads knocked off or they get knocked down.  In other words don't be too successful and for goodness sakes should you work like mad and have great successes, do not under any circumstance tell anyone or "boast" about it, cos for sure you will get knocked down!
The confusion for me has always been the duality of (Australian) people seeing themselves, or someone they admire, as a "battler" ... meaning that in spite of huge odds a person battles on and either "wins" or overcomes some challenge. Being a "battler" is a good thing.   However it is crucial that at the same time you don't speak too much about your success.
A vivid example for me was congratulating a family member on a wonderful scholastic achievement and another family member saying there was no
need to make a fuss and that the achiever would know within themselves
if they had done a good job or not: praise was not necessary.
I probably won't ever solve my issues with this "syndrome".  Life can be very challenging and at times extraordinarily difficult.  Achievements should be celebrated in my opinion.   There is no way for me to understand why someone would choose to put someone down, rather than raise them up and "make a fuss" of their successes.
Much has been written about the Tall Poppy Syndrome and if you put the phrase into a search engine one can now find references all the way back to antiquity.  But it doesn't solve the question about the "whys" of this idea for me.  And yet I hear my maternal grandmother cautioning me "Remember, pride always comes before a fall"!  Hmmm!

It was difficult to believe the amount of devastation the driving rain had created in the garden.  One could almost feel the "bruises" of the raindrops on the pink, silken petals.  The one blossom which had opened, revealing it's blackish velvet center was now dashed to pieces and part of it returning to the dark earth below.

However as I walked to look further, there was one of my neighbor Bob's bees
diving into the center of the neighboring poppy. That bee didn't care that there were blemishes on the petals: its legs were heavy with pollen as I watched it head north to the bee hive to deposit the collected pollen stopping to collect just a little more on another flower and in so doing, assuring that next year I may get to watch this ritual of spring one more time.

I'll no doubt continue to mull the issues of the Tall Poppy Syndrome longer than next spring!

No comments:

Post a Comment