This is my cactus. I rescued it from Walmart some years ago when it was only about an inch tall and a half inch in diameter. It was obvious that they had not watered it in a while. Its soil was so dry that it had separated from the wall of the pot. The cactus was very young and already looked pale from thirst.
At home, I nursed it back to health. Its color changed from almost yellow to green, and it grew in width and height. Then something happened. I did not pay it as much attention anymore. I was busy with work and myself and started to water it infrequently. It never occurred to me to give it some plant food. I bet, looking at the photo, you can tell at which point in the cactus’ life this happened.
My spiritual path, however, redirected my attention to it and to all my other plants, for that matter. Plants and animals are living beings just like us. And they suffer just like us. I could no longer ignore my cactus and water and feed it only when I happened to think of it. Of course, as one might expect, it reacted to the renewed TLC treatment by gaining in size and weight and growing straight and tall.
Lesson learned: A living being may be marked for life by unfavorable experiences or conditions, but it CAN recover its health with some TLC and reach its potential. As domesticated as so many plants and animals often are, they may always be dependent on humans to give them the care they need. After all, where else would a house plant get its water from? But once humans reach adulthood, they are typically no longer dependent on caretakers. At this point they have the option to give themselves the care and love they may not have gotten earlier in life and still reach for the stars.