I’m working on a big topic now for this blog, which is taking me longer than I thought. I recently read somewhere that great ideas and insights usually come late at night when you release your concentration and let your mind sink into total ambivalence. The logic to this is that when you let go and reevaluate, you start looking at a problem “outside the box”. The step essential in this process is letting go.
Sometimes it’s difficult to let go. As humans, we instinctively prefer familiar rather than strange because the latter suggests danger, whether it’d be emotional or physical; we like to predict the future. And this instinct for familiarity is contradictory to personal evolution – how can a person grow without taking chances and being impulsive? I once heard a story on RadioLab about a man who had a brain tumor removed, inadvertently causing him to lose his ability to make impulsive decisions. This condition ultimately caused him to spend hours in a supermarket trying to decide which cereal to buy. My point is that impulsion does wonders in small doses. Just think about it, you primarily make rational decisions in your life by eating, going to work, crossing the road on a green light, watering your plants, servicing your car, etc, etc. But sometimes we only lack the smallest raindrop of courage that can change our whole life. Courage is evolution.
I had a big epiphany a few months ago, when my husband and I visited a bonsai tree farm. The owner of the farm was a quiet man in his sixties who was an enlightened artist and a bonsai lover. He inherited many of his trees from old friends and he exulted at the ages of his favorite specimens. Our stop at his farm was totally impromptu and we were walking around it a few minutes before Jay came out of his house and greeted us with a warm and content smile. He patiently began touring us around his garden, showing his prized possessions. I really wanted to buy a tree as a souvenir of our impulsive and rewarding decision to turn around into the parking lot that plainly said “Bonsai Trees”. As we were walking around the garden, we stopped by a miniature ivy and I knew she was the one. Her stem curled into a 7 and she had the tiniest little leaves that followed the branches like paws. And then Jay told me something that really made me reevaluate everything that I know; he told me that the secret of a bonsai is training. So aside from manipulating the branches to form pleasant shapes, a grower must also train the leaves. This is done by cutting those that grow too big and leaving the tiny ones. That way after a few years of discipline, the bonsai tree will only grow small leaves. He concluded by saying that although some house plants love the sun, many of them die when taken out of the house for the first time after winter. This is because their leaves are very tender from the sunless room it lived in during the winter and they need time to adapt to direct sunlight; they should be taken out gradually with shade first, direct sunlight last. I was in awe. I never knew that plants adapted to their surroundings, just like people. I realized also that a person can be trained to do anything, just like the plants. There is a Russian tradition called “zakalyanie”, which means to gradually train the body, whether it is become insensitive to germs or to function in cold temperatures. The latter is more exciting though – people train by running naked in the snow and swimming in ice-cold water. This helps a person not be sensitive to cold winters and remain in good health throughout the year. So People, get out there, train yourself to do something that you thought was impossible. It is possible. Everything is.
I was going to write about one idea, but ended up with a whole necklace! Speaking of necklaces, during my “letting it go” time, I finally completed a forgotten project of mine. I made this wonderful crocheted necklace from two very thin strands of cotton thread and, of course, a little bit of love.
-Tree People Love