Our Garden of Life

Leonard Nimoy tweeted, “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.”

Sometimes when I see a beautiful flower in full bloom, I am tempted to pick and put it in a vase to enjoy it. Yet flowers stay longer right where they are until their petals close, wilt and fade. Sometimes in the best of moments, we forget to capture it in a photograph — yet perfect moments we experience are sometimes better left untouched, spared by the camera, and kept private.

Can we ever capture enough of the joy or pain, or the happiness or sadness of a moment? Many times, they remain just as beautiful or poignant, or hurtful pressed in the deep recesses of our hearts and minds, much like pressed or dried flowers…

Image source
Image Source
Image Source

This indeed is our garden of life. The journey we take, with all our experiences, good or bad, is the garden plot in which we sow seeds of growth in a variety of ways —

These are the flowers we cultivate as we nurture the garden of our lives into full bloom – developing ourselves, cultivating our potentials until we reach our full flourishing. So as we dig deeper into the soil, the foundation of our spiritual selves, we also weed out what can hinder our personal growth.

Image Source
Image Source

Each of our experiences, the people we have and encounter, are unique on their own, and provide for us an enriching life – despite the mud, thorns and prickly bushes —

 

These are mistakes we make, the hurts we cause or are caused by others, the toxic people we sometimes meet — all these provide us invaluable lessons and insights so we become stronger, better persons.

Our failings do not necessarily mar the beauty and dignity of our persons, just as thorns do not mar the beauty of a rose…

And life still remains beautiful!

Image Source

 

Note: This post was first published in 2015, and this is my revised edition (2018): new title, new photos and with minor edits.

3 Life Lessons from Photography

Indeed, “Life is like photography.” As another oft-quoted line goes, “You use /need the negatives to develop.” 

 

This truth struck me while watching the early morning scene outside the window.

 

Truly, there’s beauty in an image or in the scene before you – when there’s a balanced rendering of light and shadow. A captured image or the real scene before you is rendered more beautiful with its shadows – making it more dramatic or captivating.

In life, light and shadow are both essential – light being the good, positive things we experience, and shadow being the bad, negative ones. Without our ups and downs, we cannot truly grow.

It’s during our lowest point do we learn fresh insights, gain more wisdom – all these helping us to get up and move on. To let us rise up from the ashes of our ‘decay’ and fly again like a phoenix.

Our lowest-point experiences: the sad, bitter, painful life situations; the struggles and frustrations – all these make us appreciate our good times, our blessings, our gifts which we often fail to consider when we’re happy or content; when everything’s in our favor.

Our sufferings can motivate us to become better persons. They can also lead us to be more appreciative of ourselves – with all our light and shadows, as well: the good and bad aspects in us, that make up who we are.

My daily practice with my camera — shooting scenes of nature, the urban landscape, people, house pets, and objects – has sharpened my power of observation, letting me notice more keenly even the minutest of details, such as the slant of shadows as sunlight strikes the earth at different hours of the day.

What fascinates me most is the constant change in the way the same scenes before me are being played out second after second, minute by minute, hour after hour, day in day out.

Each passing time brings about change — slight or dramatic — depending on how light and shadow fall on anyone, anything around me. I’ve developed a keener awareness of what’s happening in my immediate environment all because I’ve learned to use my power of observation.

In the process, I’m discovering, learning more new things. Indeed, there’s so much beauty around.

Most clear – all the beauty I see around does not stay that way all the time!

Nothing’s permanent no matter how beautiful it is. So are the negative things in our lives and in ourselves.

Three important lessons we can derive from this:

  • First, we shouldn’t be too attached to anything in life, not even with the people in our lives.

Too much attachment can only cause more pain, more frustration – because it makes us expect or demand more. Just. Let. Be. A much wiser thing to do.

  • Second, we should not despair over the worst in ourselves, for there’s always HOPE for us to become better. And the sad, painful, or bad things that happen? All these, too, shall pass away.

Besides, our negative experiences make us stronger, wiser, more mature. These are opportunities we can use to grow into the finest version of ourselves and learn how to better handle such situations. Each of our life experiences is a time of discovering the truth of ourselves — the good, the bad, the ugly.

  • Finally, discovering our truth, we can choose to highlight the beauty and goodness within us because after all, we are truly beautiful creatures of God, who made us in His likeness and being. Just like how seemingly ugly a landscape is, when light is cast upon it, its beauty shines or it becomes more attractive.

Still, we need to recognize our weak points, so we can overcome these, and let our innate beauty as human persons shine.

Realizing both the good and the bad in us, we see ourselves in a better perspective, in a better light. We grow to understand, accept, and love ourselves more.

And this is how we learn to view, appreciate, and love others as well.