Orchid flowers are beautiful for having a sophisticated simplicity. I enjoy gardening, but as I live in a canal house in Amsterdam, I cultivate some small trees in the roof terrace and flowers inside the house. This year one my orchids blossomed in early March and exhibited three beautiful stems of flowers until two weeks ago.
After all these months of daily beauty appreciation, I got used to it and thought it would last forever. Then, flowers started slowly wrinkling, aging and falling down. I followed the fall of each of them and photographed, as to immortalize it. I was sad to see it ending.
Well, you may find this very silly, but I call my all plants my daughters and care a lot for them. Traveling involve arranging someone to take care of them, as much as you may do with your kids and pets.
Well, during this decay and ‘closure’ process, I started reflecting on our perceptions about the aging of the orchid, relative to our own, as humans.
There is so much beauty in aging. If we are open to see it. Accept it. Enjoy it.
What seems different, is indeed different. We are never the same we were yesterday. We get better, improved, clearer. And the best of us starts to show and shine.
We go through life cycles, as teens, mid-life, etc. and each one of these offers the so-called ‘life crisis’. Each person experiences each phase in a very unique way. It will depend on how much we have invested in self-awareness and self-development. The more we know about ourselves, the least we will worry about all intrinsic consequences of change, and rather accept life’s opposite face, death, and its temporary and ephemeral nature.
Some call it wisdom and strive a whole life to achieve that.
I am reading the book ‘Happiness, a guide to developing life’s most important skill‘, from Matthieu Ricard, a Frenchman who had a promising career in cellular genetics, before leaving to Tibet to study Buddhism and become a Buddhist monk.
It is by far the best book I have ever read. And why? Not only because of the immersion on the Buddhist perspective, but because of its compelling, simple and universal message on what causes our sufferings of the mind, namely frustration, dissatisfaction, unhappiness, etc.
We make a limited assumption that our happiness depends more on outside circumstances than on the knowledge, development and control of our minds.
We spend time to become intellectually and physically knowledgeable, healthier and fitter. What is the use of it, if we don’t know much about ourselves, and don’t invest in self-knowledge? When we don’t, we become blind to the sources of our negative emotions, and the effect it has on our behaviors and on others. We will see more good or fault on others, instead on ourselves, and we will not see our inner beauty anymore, but live in an endless search for more, and outside ourselves. As the author says, we will be running in a ‘hedonistic treadmill’.
Every single day counts. Life is temporary and we should not waste it. Why not invest in making each day the best it can be? The only way is to look inwards. There, we can find our essence. And no matter how old we are or will be, we will carry it with us, shining, peacefully, beautifully.
I am not a Buddhist, and no one needs to be, to know oneself. But if we are to be happy, age graciously, and be remembered as having had a worthy life, we will need more than just being healthy, beautiful and cultured.