Monday, July 30, 2012
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Lotus Flower
My friend Joanna is going to Spain for six weeks to visit her dad. She goes to Spain about once a year and it's not a huge deal because she travels a lot, so I'm pretty used to saying goodbye and seeing her in a few months. She has already been in Colombia, Ecuador, and Ghana this year. She gets around. She was in the Peace Core in Ecuador and just finished her masters in Public Health at UC Berkeley so she travels for the non-profit that she works for and visits her connections from her time spent living abroad. She leaves on Thursday, and I'm going to be sad.
My other friend Kat is leaving to go to Rwanda for probably a minimum of one month, but since her return ticket is open ended, there's no telling how long she will end up being gone. She went to Rwanda last November with her mom, on a work trip. She became friends with the tour guide that showed that group of mental health workers around and since she has kept in touch with him, she is going back to spend more time in Rwanda and potentially travel around other parts of East Africa. (I need to tell her that I just heard about an Ebola outbreak in Uganda. Someone remind me.) I am so happy for her to get to go see that part of the world. What an amazing experience that will be! So many stories. Just the chance to see hippos gets me all worked up, and I'm not even going! She also leaves on Thursday.
Now, I have these awesome friends that love to travel as much as I do. And go to non-conventional places, which I like. I have one friend, Timmy, living in Indonesia, and I get a kick out of telling people that. So many people are afraid of so many parts of the world, or just think they are ass-backwards communities of people. I remember telling folks I was moving to Costa Rica a few years ago (that story will come at a later date) and I was warned that they don't have toilet paper down there. When I tried to assure them that, yes, they do have toilet paper, I was told once more, very seriously, that no, they don't and I should look into the place a bit more before moving there.
The Self Realization Fellowship. SRF assigns a similar symbolism to the lotus flower as is common in Buddhism, Hinduism, and ancient Eygpt. The lotus flower is a beautiful flower that emerges from dark, dank, murky waters and ponds. Because of this, wearing the lotus flower helps remind you that from our darkest moments, bloom our most beautiful beginnings.
I had been wearing the lotus flower for a while and then decided to take it off. I get a little obsessed wearing jewelery for long periods of time. It was around this time that my friend Whitney was going through a rather tough spot in her life, so I decided she should wear the lotus flower until she bloomed into her next phase. She ended up wearing the flower on a trip to Mexico, where she became friends with a woman named Jaime. Jaime wore the flower back to Chicago where she lives. After Mexico, Whitney decided to go visit Jaime in Chicago. That was back in April, she hasn't come back and she is happy. I'm happy for her. Whitney ended up going to Colombia with Joanna, and wearing the flower there as well. She then decided that Joanna should wear the flower on her trip to Ecuador. Joanna did and has been wearing it since then. Joanna will be giving it to Kat, to wear to Rwanda on Thursday. That same necklace is coming back to me with Kat so that I can wear it on my next adventure, which will be in December.
This same lotus flower also lives in the form of a tattoo, behind my friend Lindsey's ear. I'm not quite sure how this whole thing got started but it's beautiful. I want to get all emotional and philisophical about how our pain and suffering, and therefore, our liberation and happiness are all tied together, but let's face it, that's a little out of my writing style. It is fucking cool though that this lotus flower is making the rounds. Pretty soon it will be more well-traveled than I am.
I guess I just think that something like this is important. And I'm not sure why, why we need symbols to remind us of things that we already know. Why we need to have habits and rituals, things that become traditions. These things, these acts, these symbols, they stand for so much and they help us stay on track. For me, right now, this lotus flower is very important. The amount of love that has been put into it. The places it's been and the people that is has interacted with. There is something magical about it.
To my friends who are or soon will be scattered about once again, Whitney in Chicago, Timmy in Indonesia, Kat in Rwanda, Joanna in Spain, be safe and be loved. And remember, when something doesn't seem to be going the way you had imagined it, or even going well at all, those mishaps and mistakes, those moments of darkness and desperation, those are the places where your roots are finding nutrients. From those places, you will bloom.