Looking for the Ultimate Truth

I placed a purple orchid, a Phalaenopsis, on my coffee table a few days ago.  As the rain falls, and a fire burns on this cold and dreary Sunday,  I marvel at this flower, its origins dating back to the time of the dinosaurs!  I feel as if I intuitively understand the deeper truths of life, the workings of the universe, with just one look at this flower. 

The orchid, a stunning, delicate yet tenacious flower, takes my breath away and commands my full attention, to pay close attention to its long list of special needs or it will surely perish. 

For those who know me, I can kill a cactus, so to dedicate my life to the care of an orchid is no easy feat.  My husband, who has the green thumb in our family, promised to care for the orchid alongside me as I learn in detail every thing it needs. 

Together, we read in earnest how the orchid performs best when given medium to bright indirect light; when the temperatures hovers between 65 to 75 degrees.  It gets thirsty for water every 20-25 days, but its important for its roots to almost dry before giving it a drink; and it needs nutrients, a liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks; the list of needs goes on and on.  I won’t go into what it needs to re-bloom, or you’ll end up buying fake orchids for your home from now on.  But I am up for the challenge to hold fine company with these finicky flowers at every turn.

The orchid also reminds me to pay close attention to the needs and surroundings which allow me to grow and thrive: solitude, nature, writing, readings and reflections, human connection, new experiences, the four seasons that come with the rain, the sun.  I take pause and wonder what my loved ones need to grow and blossom each and every year.  They too, have their uniqueness and special needs.  How easily we can gloss over this fact of nature.  How quickly we want our loved ones to be different out of our own need to relate or connect, rather than stand in awe of their uniqueness and come to love our colorful differences. 

Speaking of differences, I see red.  I hear chirping.  I look out the window to see a red breasted Robin bopping around outside in the cold.  I wonder what it needs to survive.  It shivers to generate heat when its cold.  It grows more feathers for winter and fluffs them up to trap warm air around its body.  Nature gives her what she needs, and they can survive just fine without us during winter,  but she and her feathered friends still look for backyard feeders to help stay fueled.  They need us and we need them.  This is true and we are all mystical miracles. 

I think about my favorite nature writers,  May Sarton, Rachel Carson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau who found the answers to life’s profound questions in nature.  These writers, especially Thoreau were famous for combining human life and the nature of the world in their journals/works.  He was always rethinking his life, creatively.  He was always asking questions, looking to nature for greater intensity, and meaning in his life, for the Ultimate Truth. 

“Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.– Henry David Thoreau

English: Portrait by Benjamin D. Maxham (dague...
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I believe the Ultimate Truth (Spirit, Mother Nature, Creator) can be found in the nature of things.  We  can find this in our daily lives, outside ourselves, and in ourselves if we just look closely.

Starting from Scratch

Recently, I met a good friend at the Sebastiani Winery in Sonoma for a picnic lunch.  As we sat down to eat, with the sun warming our skin, he handed me gifts from his garden: a bag of Meyer lemons and tasty citrus tangerines.  The lemons had their natural zest; the tangerines their pungent smell.  This  fresh fruit came from the fertile grounds he and his wife cultivated and grew from scratch. 

My friend shared aspects of his life, about his first home (a tear down) here in Sonoma in which he had to rebuild  from the ground up–from scratch, if you will.  I marveled at this undertaking, the blood, sweat and tears of years of hard work, but even more, at the finished product–a cozy Sonoma bungalow with a wrap around porch, garden, pool and Bocci court. 

One way or another, each and every day, whether it be the writing of a new blog or development of a story,  the making of a fine wine, the teachings of a child, the being there for a friend, the planting of seeds for the garden come spring, the trying of a new recipe, or the watching of the rising sun, falling moon, I look at each day as a life-start from scratch.  It’s a simple approach I know, and found it allows room for forgiveness for daily goofs, god-awful mistakes, unexpected regressions, but ensures new growth and new beginnings.  In this way, I live in the simple present, having less.

It was Jamie Lee Curtis who said in The Huffington Post Guide to Blogging, “I think we as a species are on a suicidal course, wanting more, having more, feeding ourselves and our children on ephemeral pleasures and poisons.”  

I’m far from being out of the woods in terms of simplifying life, my things, my obligations and interests.  It’s taking years to want less, own less, have less, but slowly, I am ridding myself of possessions I don’t need and letting go of what holds me back.  It’s a work in progress. 

I joke with my friends, that one day, all I’ll want is a cotton spool and a bare room to spool in like Gandhi, but in reality, my home in Sonoma surrounded by the simple things: child-like laughter, wine, silence, food and water, tree and flower blooms, birds and books, walks and talks, love, poetry and prayer will do just fine on my porch where I have two seats waiting for you and me. 

After I said good-bye to my lunch pal, he texted me later, offering up a carton of fresh eggs from chickens who feed off his  grounds from scratch.  Ain’t that a lot like life!