One Breath

On the value of staying open


I’ve just heard an interesting story from Amsterdam and it’s about rigid flowers.

Many flowers close up at night and then open up again when the sun comes out. But when a florist or grower looks at their flowers, they sometimes see what they call ‘bullets.’ These are the flowers that refuse to open; they stay closed up like a bullet.

When that happens, all of the flower’s beauty remains tightly packed up inside. The world misses out on the promise of a glorious display and the flower misses out on achieving its full, beautiful potential.

Bullet flowers are either thrown out or only used as backup for the main bouquet.

Florists and growers also say that all it can take for a bullet to blossom, is for it to take “just one breath.” That’s a nice way of putting it. In other words, it doesn’t take much. The difference between being rigid and becoming open to brilliance, is only one breath away.

It’s my observation that the same can be said for people.

Some people are rigid. They don’t look at anyone or anything around them, they don’t talk to strangers, they don’t entertain new ideas, or travel to new places. They’re almost scared of trying new clothes, new hobbies, or new jobs.

In conversation they may have a decidedly fixed, defensive or negative tone. They’re experts at finding what’s wrong with things and have difficulty finding what’s right. Their world and philosophy are often small and in danger of getting even smaller as they get older.

They’re rigid.

It may well be that this has come about as a defence mechanism from pain, disillusionment or tragedy. Or even the comforting allure of familiar habits over time. But, nonetheless, the person is less than they could otherwise be.

You see, the problem with rigidity is that it negates possibility.

Like the bullet flower, it shuts away beauty, closes down opportunities for brilliance, and offers only secondary value at best; more often, none.

Rigidity happens in many areas of our lives.

Without appropriate use and continual stretching your body will become rigid. You’ll start to feel lethargic and prefer over-eating to exercise. One day, you won’t be able to walk up the steep hill to see the beautiful view anymore.

Without regular appreciation, nurture and spontaneity, your relationships will grow rigid. You’ll stop enjoying the company of those closest to you and start finding reasons you don’t feel close anymore. Pretty soon you’ll wonder why you’re still in the same house.

Minds become rigid. Without exposure to new ideas and different information, challenges to your beliefs and ideals, deepening of your understanding, and widening of your perspective you begin to see not the way the world is, but the way you think it ought to be. Consequently, your future becomes firm, confined, and restricted when, in fact, it’s flexible, open and limitless.

Contrast that with a life of curiosity and openness. You can be more free, less judgemental, and find better ways of doing things. You can meet new people, learn interesting things, and have new experiences shared with those you enjoy being with – even people you haven’t met yet.

You could do new, more interesting work, travel to new, more interesting places and eat more interesting foods you never knew you’d enjoy. Your photos will be different, your stories will be new, and you’ll be more interesting to chat with.

You’ll lose the heavy coat of ‘the same-old’ and feel lighter walking under different circumstances. Forgiveness can lead to restored relationships, tolerance can lead to new friends, and kindness can make the world a better place.

You may even find that where you once were convinced you were quite right, you were, in fact, quite wrong. It’s like finally getting off the wrong train. What a relief that can be!

So, as I examine my life, examine yours too.

Look for areas of rigidity, personal defeatism, general negativity or even criticism of others. Catch yourself thinking or saying words like can’t, won’t or never. Identify what doesn’t work anymore, what has little true value, or what no longer serves a brighter future for you, those you love, and the world in which we all live.

Challenge yourself to let go of these mindsets and habits. They hold no value for you any longer.

Just like the bullet flower, open up to life’s opportunities and your own full brilliance.

You’re just one breath away.



Welcome. I'm the author of this site, an ordinary guy in my mid-fifties, with three adult children and a cute little granddaughter. I recently did a 10 week solo trip around the world - hence the travel videos on this site. I write, coach and speak about simple wisdom for life and work. I help professionals become more influential leaders and communicators with clients and colleagues. But, first and foremost I love helping people live a life that matters.