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How Things Are Now

The poet must not avert his eyes.

- Werner Herzog



In an ikebana class, we students were once asked to pick an emotion -- anger, sadness, surprise, joy -- and create an arrangement expressing it. The point, of course, was to show how life and art were inseparable, each influencing or reflecting the other. Today with COVID19 still on the rampage, there's no shortage of emotions from which to choose.


Remember the days when we attended yoga classes instead of watching them online? I had a teacher then who, occasionally during class, would toss off surprising comments that set me to thinking. For example, once when

we were close to finishing, when we lay still with our arms and legs outstretched in repose, barely breathing, settling into what's called corpse or dead man's pose, she'd slyly pop off, "Ah, we're rehearsing...." Other times she'd say, and this usually on a day when she seemed defeated or downcast, "Just remind yourself, this is how things are now."


I considered that now, when I began writing a post on the subject of tulips. Usually, when I choose a particular plant subject, you're likely to get some information on how and when it grows, whether or not it likes sun, where to plant it and during which season. In addition, if I can find something unexpected, I might offer a bit of folklore or an interesting anecdote, maybe some unusual way to treat it in an ikebana arrangement.


It was in this spirit that I began researching the tulip. What I found instead of the fundamentals though, in this now where we all live today, was article after article telling the same sad story. Neither folklore nor myth, no big reveal about the flower's deeper meaning. This tale was a fact. You can Google it yourself, although I doubt you'll want to.


It recounts how this year in April, when the whole world suddenly found itself in this new now, hundreds of thousands of tulips at a festival in Japan, stretching for miles in dazzling display, all in vigorous and exuberant bloom, were purposefully destroyed on a single day. Why? Because people just loved them too much.


It happened in Sakura City in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo. Tourists flock there annually to attend the Sakura Tulip Festival. But this year, COVID19 came along and, for the safety of all, the event was cancelled. But, that didn't stop the locals and tourists. They kept coming. Despite the government's lockdown they just couldn't miss this chance to see the tulips.


A similar horror show took place in the Netherlands, a place perhaps even more world renowned for its tulip festivals, which around the same time had to destroy more than a million flowers. One grower said, "I took my bike and went cycling when they did it because I couldn’t handle it.”


I thought about ignoring this story. Who wants to hear about decapitated tulips in an ikebana blog? I hesitated to share it here, all those piles of colorful flowers lying on the ground lifeless, wasted, but these are the times in which we live.


As my daughter says, "Time is so slow, but also so fast." Things have changed in an instant, but it seems a lifetime. The good thing is that the coronavirus doesn't stop flowers from blooming. The tulips will be back next year. Perhaps more beautiful than ever, equally irresistible, certainly stronger. Hopefully, we will too and there will be a new now.


In the meantime, in my next post, let's create a tulip festival in our own garden just to be sure we don't miss them again.




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