My dearest girlfriend (ever) Jennifer turned 44. As any thinking, right or left brain, person will recognise 4+4 = 8, or turned sideways, the eight becomes the symbol for infinity (created by John Wallis in 1655 the symbol refers to things without any limit, which Jennifer attempts to condition corporate clients toward).
I don’t have the market cornered on being an ‘old soul’ but through my filter I subscribe that we forget too much of what is meaningful by over-thinking and in the process we experience a loss to natural elegance, the gifts perpetually and abundantly present (into infinity) throughout the living of our lives which are often free for embracing.
By 44 we will have pondered the meaning of life, our connection to the universe, what gifts we have been blessed with genetically, what we have managed in cultivating our brains, polished our skills, and (hopefully) go about leaving the world a better place as a result of our embracing those gifts.
In truth it is the gift of our innocence and humility that creates more dramatic resonance than we can imagine – if we could just maintain that level of status quo whilst the rest of us ‘develops’. A child of six will pluck handfuls of dandelions with only the desire to ‘surprise and delight’ someone s/he loves. These are always presented (if you pay attention) with ‘hope’ which can be read in their body language, of hiding the ‘bouquet’ behind their back, the usual accompanying language of “I have a surprise for you” and a sweet expression mixed with anxiety (a desire to be worthy in the eyes of the recipient). The appropriate response should ALWAYS be – “OH, darling! I love it!” But as we grow older, more cynical, more juiced up on our importance (always, I think, riddled with insecurities) and our role in the universe it’s so very easy to misplace the magic of tenderness, the beauty of humility (the thought or thinking behind the gift) with the bravado of bigger, faster, more expensive, flashier attempts of using our purchasing power for the purpose of validation and HEY! LOOK AT ME!
I am a ferocious gardener, but without a mindfulness of which each requires to live not a single plant will thrive – and even with that knowledge I still sometimes fail. Yet I never tire of trying to instill this lifelong passion of being Mother Nature’s vehicle on Earth, for being a steward of the planet we inhabit to the next generation. Gardening is an art infused with science, it is beauty cultivated or left to ‘run with scissors’ over landscapes, it is a 16th century Persian miniature painting accompanied by Rumi’s words, the scent of a ruffled lily, a tiny flower head of lavender on carpet of emerald green Irish moss. The ‘quietude’ which finds its center in both a garden and the gardener is without question Divine. But the garden itself is a temple, a gymnasium (extreme fitness devotees would likely wilt after hauling compost for an hour) and an ashram. Only in existing within this quietude can we observe a bird pause to splash with wild abandon (and clearly gratitude) in a freshly filled bird-bath. My greatest joy can be found in the reverence one of my ‘disciples’ has for protecting the life of a worm, delighting in the butterfly alighting a blossom or when they remember the name of a plant (taken out of the context of the garden where they had their first encounter) or asking if they can water the plants. Each of these is both ‘cause and effect’, the ‘pebble-in-the-pond’, a rich kinesis of our larger world, and a harmony we are charged with striving ever toward – whichever of our innate gifts are most useful to deploy to disrupt unfathomable conditions of ugliness, pain and suffering.
Whether a vacant urban lot or our soul, these canvases are gardens simply waiting to be reclaimed and nurtured, a gift of self that encourages others to connect and manifest a ‘greater good’ and so it shall (hopefully) be for infinity.
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