Growing up, I often took for granted the 10 acres of bushland my parents had moved us to. Every other weekend my mother would drag me to open gardens and orchids shows, and no trip interstate was complete without a visit to their Royal Botanical Gardens. To be honest, at the time I hated it. Like most kids I would of preferred to have been hanging out with my friends, instead of helping mum buy her 7000th orchid. After school I'd mow the lawns, plant trees, feed the chickens and water our veggie garden in the white-mesh greenhouse my parent had affectionately dubbed 'The White House'. At the time, I dreaded these chores. But looking back now, I long to live a lifestyle like this. Hindsight is an interesting thing.
When I finally packed up my things and moved to the big-smoke of Sydney, I loved it! Sydney is a beautiful city with character and history, but its also a jungle out here. I met some nasty lions, and a couple of cheeky monkeys who became my best mates along the way. We live in a fast paced city and too often it feels like people are on auto-pilot, scurrying to and from work, late nights in the office and high pressure environments. After three years of concrete buildings, office politics and working my ass off all week for a paycheque, that frankly wasn't worth the struggle, I knew the corporate life wasn't for me. By this point I was in a constant state of stress, burnt out and depressed.
In a moment of despair, my partner came home with a book that he thought I HAD to read. So I did, and my journey back to nature began. 'The Power of Now' made me aware of the mindfulness I was lacking in my life, but it was one particular passage whilst reading in the park that put me on the path to Biophilia.
"Zen masters use the word satori to describe a flash of insight, a moment of no-mind and total presence. You may indeed have experienced it many times without knowing what it is and realising its importance. Presence is needed to become aware of the beauty, the majesty and the sacredness of nature. Have you ever gazed up into the infinity of space on a clear night, awestruck by the absolute stillness and inconceivable vastness of it? Have you truly listened to the sound of a mountain stream in the forest? Or to the song of a bird at dusk on a quiet summer evening? To become aware of such things, the mind needs to be still. You have to put down for a moment your personal baggage, of past and future, as well as your knowledge; other wise you will see, but not see and hear, but not hear. Your total presence is required.
Many people are so imprisoned in their mind that the beauty of nature does not really exist for them. They might say "What a pretty flower" but that's just a mechanical mental labelling. Because they are not still nor present, they dont truly see the flower, they don't feel its essence. We live in such a mind-dominated culture that most modern art, architecture, music and literature are devoid of beauty and inner essence, with a few exceptions. The reason is that the people who create those things cannot free themselves from their mind. The mind left to itself creates monstrosities, and not only in art galleries. Look at our urban landscapes and industrial wastelands. No civilisation has ever produced so much ugliness."
- Eckhart Tolle
That afternoon in the park, I closed my eyes and just listened. Listened to the breeze whizzing past my ears, the bugs chirping in the trees, the splashes of birds bathing in the pond near by. Once I knew my mind was completely present in that moment, I opened my eyes and focused on the nature that now engulfed me everywhere. Grass so green, littered with tiny ants travelling with the crumbs of my lunch on their backs, birds chasing each other from tree to tree, like little little kids playing tag and the sea of flowers in bloom along the footpaths. For the first time in a long time, I felt really bloody lucky.
With this realisation, I knew what to do. I had to get back in touch with nature, the way I had been growing up. Newly unemployed and inspired to do whatever brought me joy, I knew I had to combine my rediscovered need to be around nature with something that could still pay the bills. So I began to study Floristry. I took to it like a duck to water and I've never looked back. Working with flowers healed me. Now I hustle harder than I ever have, but it rarely feels like work.
Arranging flowers for people feeds my creativity, my love of nature as well as my need to nurture. Flowers are sent as expressions of gratitude, love, sympathy or simply as a kind gesture, so each bouquet must be created with the intended message in mind. But hand-delivering them to their recipients almost brings me more joy than actually creating them. Not only because of the beautiful messages that comes from their senders, but also because I hope that the unique and thoughtfully chosen flowers I unite will create the spark for someone else's moment of satori.