“A world of grief and pain Flowers bloom Even then”
- Haiku by Kobayashi Issa
Girl With A Rose by Gustave-Leonard de Jonghe
2022 has been a tumultuous year for me - seated in a rollercoaster that I did not hold the controls of, life pushed me right over the edge sometime middle of the year.
Regaining any semblance of control took a lot of willpower and extreme patience (personally, as well as from my partner).
Once I felt more grounded, the first thing I did was create a game plan for myself. A blueprint of my approach to life, if you will. Deep introspection was followed by a personal deep clean, where I chose to keep and discard goals, refurbish emotions, and purchase a fresh new outlook.
One of the promises I made myself this year was to surround myself with beauty that I create and bring forth wilfully. I bought new curtains that were fresh white with delicate Prussian blue flowers. Every morning, I would make the bed and tidy my room before leaving for work, ensuring I came back to pleasant surroundings. I invested in my skincare routine because the ritual of lotions, serums and masks would focus my thoughts - the scents calming me and allowing me to shed the baggage of the day before I drifted into a peaceful sleep. And every second week, I would walk to the local flower market and buy flowers for myself.
I frequent a favourite stall on the side of a busy intersection, browsing through vivid colours and subtle intoxicating scents. Every flower represents an emotional mood that I select at whim, not thinking of anything other than feeling the simple joy such beauty would imbue.
I bring home selections of starry asters, humble chamomiles, elegant tuberoses, and vivid carnations. I leisurely arrange the flowers in a milky white enamel jug, reflecting upon the space, balance and form. The process flows naturally, almost meditative, brightening up not just my mood but also the ambience.
Different cultures have recognized and espoused the many beneficial qualities of flower arrangement. Paintings and sculptures offer evidence of how the ancient Egyptians designed formal bouquets of the sacred lotus flowerers, arranging them in vases and formal bouquets, as placements on the banquet table, decorations for processions, and even offerings to the dead. The Greeks fabricated symbolic wreaths and garlands, and overflowing cornucopias of fruit, grain and vegetables as religious offerings. Flower arrangements evolved over time with the cultures of regions influencing the context. From creating naturally flowing flower arrangements of the Middle Ages placed in everyday utilitarian containers like jugs, bottles and jars, to the elaborate contemplative art form of Japanese ikebana, flower arrangements have spanned across religious, spiritual, and decorative contexts.
So the next time I place the day's blossomed selections in a vase, maybe I'll think about the ancient ritual I'm partaking in, feeling connected to the cultural symbolism. As of now, simply basking in the presence of these beautifying blooms is self care that I continue to indulge in.