Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Garden in Need of Light

... a great journey needs plenty of time. It should not be rushed; if it is, your life becomes a kind of abstract package tour devoid of beauty and meaning. There is such a constant whirr of movement that you never know where you are. You have no time to give yourself to the present experience. When you accumulate experiences at such a tempo, everything becomes thin. Consequently, you become ever more absent from your life and this fosters emptiness that haunts the heart.
John O'Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

I have recently come to view flowers as a luxury. I am not a gardener as I have had little to no space the past ten years to grow much of anything, but I do yard work- cleaning out weeds, raking leaves, and trimming hedges. My yard in Japan is full of trees and greenery but this prevents sun from touching the ground which means no flowers. I walk amongst the spring flowers in bloom as I view my neighbor's yards. Here gardens are compact abutting each other in small spaces. Despite the small size of the gardens, the warmth and rain mean that everything that has some space is flourishing and green. Flowers seem so extraordinarily enriching; they add such colors to my walks. It reminded me of Michael Pollan's book Botany of Desire. It was the first time I thought about the relationship we have with plants.

Maybe it is my itinerant ways, having lived in so many places, but I have longed for a garden full of sun for a long time. There is much work involved in gardening so perhaps just a sunny spot would do it for me. I have not lived in a sunny yard unless you count the desert of Bahrain which required manure and gardening in the winter season as the summer sun would cook everything. Here, my landlady sits picking at a patch of weeds while the trees block the sunlight. Light! I need the light. I have started hacking away at the weeds and small tree limbs that block the light and air from flowing around the front of the house. I feel as if I am disappearing in the shade. It is not that I do not love the beauty of the trees, but it is the excessiveness of the leaves that block the light that I struggle against. I have no idea of the cultural ramifications of clearing some space. I have given up hope even for flowers; I just want some air to flow in the yard. I think the Chinese call this qi or chi which is about energy flow. To get the energy to flow, a pruning is needed. The hillsides covered in trees sway in the breeze; they are staggered and up high, the air moves them. In the valley, the air sits oppressively and fills with moisture and mosquitoes. I need light.

I keep writing, but I am unsure of continuing. I try to focus on the idea that it is about a thought each day, but I barely have time to write an entry and less to edit my errors. I start to think why bother. I am inspired by the idea of slowing down and taking time to examine some thought, but my fear is that not all thoughts are worthy of examination. To write something worthy of the time it takes to write, to read, that reflects my journey is my aim, but I feel lost today. "Not everything in us is beautiful. We need to undertake the meticulous work of clearance and clarification in order that our inner beauty may shine," writes O'Donohue. Perhaps as I clear out the yard, I clear out some of those ugly spots inside me too. I want the light inside and out.