“The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life”
I could imagine Ken Watanabe enlightening Tom Cruise in absolute Zen calmness (from The Last Samurai in case you are wondering what this is all about) with the above words. I could further pretend to understand a fraction of the epiphany brought in by these deep words. All because I was gazing lovingly into the eyes of a thousand pastel pink beauty blossoms, resplendently welcoming Spring in early September.
I was at the Auburn Botanical Gardens, notable for celebrating two weekends in a year with its Annual Cherry Blossom festival, in the midst of its Japanese gardens. It contained a long boulevard of cherry trees, denuded by a frigid winter, yet bedecked in floral beauty from branch to twig, as if awaiting the long pending kiss of an early Spring. It was not just a sea of pink – there were magnolias and lavenders in full bloom too, but there is undeniably an aura in a long row of cherry trees, each painted in shades of pink, standing out all too well against the bright blues of a morning sky, with a thin layer of fallen blossoms rugging the walkway beneath.
The Japanese gardens were steeped in oriental beauty – cherry blossoms, a reflecting pool, graceful geese, pagoda like structures as well as orange koi fish sparkling in the morning light. The organizers had further added Ikebana, origami and bonsai lessons, not to mention Japanese music sessions. As in apt recognition to these measures, the crowds were teeming with east Asians. Actually, Flower viewing or ‘hanami’ is a century old practice in Japan, where the folks gather in large numbers to appreciate the onset of Spring.
But what really touched me was the fondness with which people were celebrating the same festivity, thousands of miles away from home. In this other hemisphere, people had come dressed as samurais or geishas, partaking of the beauty of ephemeral flowers, in some far-flung suburb of a foreign city. All this, perhaps to remind themselves of home more than to remind us of themselves. After this, it will be back to the hustle of an ordinary life as usual, but for a brief moment, these people were transported back to the comfort of a place called yesterday.
For a brief moment, I turned philosophical – I moved away from the thousand pink blooms to the thousand happy faces, joined together by something as simple as a flower that will shed away in a few days. Every face with its own memory from long lost childhood days, every smile a glowing tribute that the past is often sweetened and aged gracefully like wine, the intoxication of which flows forever through time, more so if you are in a different place far, far away.
And in that brief realisation, I found myself smiling as well, for how different was I from them? I went back to gazing flowers. In the peacefulness of that smile, it didn’t matter if the blossoms were perfect or not…
Pastel pink in cherry blooms
Oh! Joyous spring is on its way
And yet the flowers sadly nod
That home is still so far away
Home is still so far away…