Monday, June 21, 2010

lotus tree: the title


magnificent tree in Avesbury UK: photo source


If any of you out there are anything like me, you do some of your best thinking while driving. Unfortunately, if you’re also like me, you forget because you can’t write it down! (sometimes I think I should buy a tape recorder in order to circumvent this problem—but I expect it probably wouldn’t really help… I’d just realize my ideas aren’t as great as I remember them being).


Anyways, this morning I was thinking about blogging and all the unwritten blog posts I have outlined on scraps of paper, floating around somewhere in various journals, boxes, etc (you get the idea).


A while back, I made a shift in focus in blogging that I feel was rather pronounced (which I think those who have been with me since the beginning will have definitely noticed).  At the same time I made the move to more scheduled posting, which changed the way I thought about blogging and introduced me to the idea of loosely themed days in blogging. For example, I rarely blog on the weekends now, and on Mondays I try to keep my posts inline with a more spiritual, inspirational based theme. If you ever notice the tags, you’ll notice that most of my recent Monday posts are dubbed “metta mondays.”  For those of you unaware of what metta means, it translates loosely into the concept of loving kindness and universal love. It’s a concept that I took from my time studying yoga (I really need to start yoga again…) that was actually quite life changing for me. The idea we need to take the same loving kindness used to approach each pose in yoga (notice what we love and avoid and approach them with the same openness) and then move outward and apply the same openness to our everyday lives was a profound shift in focus for me. It wasn’t a new concept by any means, but at that time in my life I was very receptive to it and it’s been something that I’ve carried with me ever since, though I am far from mastering it!


Anyways, as I was driving this morning (and maybe talking out loud to myself a little bit) I was thinking about these metta posts of mine and various moments in life when I have felt most balanced and inspired by nature. There are two places in the world (yes the world) that have, amongst many others, really marked me for life. Those 2 places actually motivated the title of this blog.


The first is seen in the photo above. The trees that you see in this picture, in Avesbury, England, are the most beautiful combination of trees that I have ever seen. There have been other trees that have come close, but the trees at Avesbury have stayed with me since I visited them many years ago. The history and magic of nature, laid bare by the exposed roots, just brings history to life for me and reminds me how interconnected we are with nature. When I was there, I just wanted to curl up in the trees for hours, writing and reading and soaking up the history and energy of the place. Of the 2, Stonehenge and Avesbury, Avesbury will always be more sacred to me because there were no barriers, no intrusion between you and the space itself. (though perhaps, had I been able to stand between the ruins of Stonehenge, I may have felt differently).


The other moment that informed this blog is undocumented. While I was traveling through India, I visited Sarnath (the famous Deer Park just outside of Varanasi (or Benares or Kashi, depending on which name you prefer, where Buddha gave his first speech). There were a great many moments in that day that were very memorable but this one moment, for all it’s simplicity, was what struck me most. I was in the garden just outside of the main site and I saw my first lotus flower in India. Now, a lotus flower in itself isn’t really that unusual in India, but there are certain things for me that really drive home that I’m in a country, for example, in Amsterdam it was the bicycles, not the windmills, that did it and in India, it was the lotus flower that did it, not the Taj Mahal. And so, being the intrepid photographer and traveller that I am, I went to take a pictures (can we say click happy much?). But what happened in that moment? My batteries died. So the moment, in all it’s significance was lost to time and memory. And there was something that struck me as perfect about that. That the lotus flower, which was rose out of the muck of a rather less than perfect pond, was only ever going to be recalled through my imperfect recollections and that I’d never really be able to fully share the experience and what it meant to me in that moment, fully with others.


imageMy lotus looked something like this, but this isn’t it, not really,

even though it’s really a lotus from Sarnath! Photo source 


As a literature student, writing about memory, history and culture in Indian sonnets at the time, this was huge for me. The little theory monkey in me was awash with insights and comments, and so, in the middle of one of the Buddha’s most significant locations, yours truly had her own little theoretical and philosophical insights…. could it be any more a propos than that? Ok, now I’m making light of it, but really, honestly, it was one of the moments that I most cherish in my trip full of so many amazing memories.


So I combined the 2: lotus tree and that was that. But being a literary student, I particularly love the added symbolism that exists in the combination, the fact that it also pays homage to the fact that I’m originally from the west coast, oft dubbed the land of the lotus-eaters, and the idea that the magnolia tree, which we had in our front yard of the house I grew up in, is often considered to be a form of the this mythical plant. What more could a west coast hippie, artsy lit geek girl like myself, ever want in a title? Really?


Given that I made this blog more about crafts than anything else, and the fact that there is a guest house in France with the same name, I added the crafts… you know, to avoid confusion…


Phew… that’s a lot of writing, and my paint happy self is a little out of practice with the long writing. In short, metta, lotuses, and trees, are all combined to remind me to remember to write from those moments of transformation and balance. Which is what I’m all about these days. Yup, it’s true! Who knew?

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