Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lesson # 5

One evening last week a hailstorm battered the very life out of my garden. The fig tree that had just acquired a whole new canopy of leaves stood as if an army of caterpillars just passed through. Each leaf was mutilated with holes. The frangipani and lilies, the all spice tree and the japonica, the banana and the hibiscus...none of them were spared.

The next morning as I walked though my garden trying to come to terms with the devastation, it struck me that only the grass bore no visible effects. Was there a lesson there I wondered?

The evening before the grass was covered in ice. But in the dappled light of the morning, I only saw a new burst of green. As if the grass have drawn life from even the bleakest of that battering and injected themselves with fresh vigour.

That to forget is to survive. So wouldn't that be an act of courage? The supreme one, in fact?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

lesson # 4

Once they were everywhere. Little brown specks chirruping through the corridors and verandas, pecking, darting, their wings winnowing the air as they rose abruptly lured by a morsel elsewhere....No one spared the house sparrow a thought except when you kept something out to dry. Those bloody little nuisances we called them as they fearlessly invaded and seized what was there.
Their music was so part of our everyday that like the ticking of a clock we grew desensitized to it. Instead our eys searched, our ears sought, our souls craved for a vision of more exotic birds.
In a little book I kept where I noted down the birds I had seen, the spoarrow never made an appearance. The sparrow was a forgotten bird.
Perhpas using the word forgotten gives me the benefit of doubt. Of an oversight. Of a lapse in memeory. The truth being much more brutal. Since it was around, I hardly gave it a second glance. The sparrow was a neglected bird.
Over the years a silence crept in and a blankness. The house sparrow no longer chirruped. Its omnipresence erased in one clean sweep. It occurs to me how perverse we are. When we have it within arm's reach, we seldom value it. As if abundance in some way erodes all that is noble and beautiful about it.
So here I am searching everywhere now for one glimpse of that house sparrow. I need to remind myself that unless I appreciate the commonplace, it could disappear forever. A wealth of memories that have the unique ability to transport me into another time and help me deal with what could be an ugly moment.
Forgetting is also about remembering the right things.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

lesson # 3

I first read about semilla besada in a Barbara Kingsolver novel. [For those who haven't read her, do.... she is an amazing writer]. In some gardens one can see a tree that abound with fruit while around it are trees that remain indifferent to the season, all the nurturing and the gardener's plea. It is as though only this tree has found some secret fountain of vigour for its roots to draw from. The Spanish have a name for it. Semilla Besada - the seed that got kissed.

I suppose there is a lesson here as well. For every dozen memories that drag us down and crush our spirits, there is one semilla besada. A memory that will feed, sustain and leave an indelible smile on our souls....Like a burgeoning tamarind tree on a highway, a dusty and stunted frangipani that stands laden with gigantic blossoms, a potted plant on the windowsill of a grim block of flats, it's there if we seek it.
We just need to look for it within us.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

lesson # 2

Some years ago, I decided to plant a garden. One of the men helping me said: you can't hurry plants. You are not building concrete boxes. You must let it grow at its own pace.
Many summers and winters later, despite all the nurturing and care, a part of the garden remains patchy. It is as if that part of the lawn would like to teach me patience. A quiet acceptance of how things could go despite our best efforts.
Memories are tricky too. They relinquish us; not vice versa. In response to my previous post, I was advocated forgiveness. I agree. But I also do think forgiving is easier than forgetting. But these are all words.
Can someone tell me a true life experience? I know the world treads carefully around writers. We are scavengers of sorts always seeking material. But what I seek here is to create a forum. To see if there are tips rather than answers. What works. What doesn't. It could be a book, a song, a day with a child, the sight of a kitten playing... tell me.... I am curious....our stories are not ours alone!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

lesson # 1

Imagine then our mind to be a garden. The kind you and I pause at when we see captured within the pages of a book. It is the garden you and I dream about. With stone cherubs and grass as green as jade. Where flowers bloom and leaves glisten. The splash of water and the singing of birds, the hum of bees and arc of rainbows as butterflies drink deep of this glorious world....into that serene landscape suddenly something sets loose a monstrous creature, a wrecking ball on a chain.

In a moment that radiant and beautiful world is no more. Bits and pieces fly. A flower is crushed; a butterfly's wings are torn. A tree lies uprooted and a side of the cherub's head is smashed in....what is left is a bleak demolition site and devastation.

Some memories are like that. They have a way of creeping up on us out of no where. Anything could trigger it. A scent, a paisley, a line in a song, a particular shade of lilac....

I think we all know what it is to be stricken by a hurtful memory. Of how it can tear us up and squeeze the very air out of our breath.

So where do we begin in our road to recovery? How do we create that garden again?

What is that first lesson in forgetting?