Tuesday, 6 October 2009

A Flower?

OK – so I was going to leave telling you this story until Christmas, but the truth is that after last week’s post and moment of visitation from my own personal despair cloud I am still mentally exhausted and need to write something positive.

It’s a story I heard as a kid, possibly based on Buddhist philosophy – but I’m not going to say where I heard it…who knows, maybe one or two of you out there will recognise it anyway.

So: the story goes that a long time ago there was a man who lived in a faraway land. The name of this land is unimportant, but it sounded vaguely like somewhere in Ireland and, when he later began his travels, this is where a lot of people thought he came from.

But the story begins before that, when the man was still a youth, living near the mountains in a society that he felt didn’t understand him and had nothing to offer. Every day he looked out of the window at the far horizon and wished to travel, to become a hero and perhaps to find some dignity – but with every passing day he felt the weight of his responsibilities weighing him further and further down.

Eventually he came to feel that the world he lived in was entirely grey and without hope – that nothing he ever did could ever come to anything – and inside he began to die.

Many times he thought of taking his life, just surrendering to the pain and being free, but something always held him back.

Then one day, when his depression was at its highest point ever he strode out of the world that he had always known and into the wilderness, looking to find a local hermit who was said to live in the mountains and who held the secret to eternal happiness. The man, who we will now refer to as The Traveller, put the last vestige of his hopes into finding the hermit, and set out across the bleak and barren landscape.

As he weaved higher into the mountains the ground became ever more barren and grey and The Traveller was exposed to the elements, becoming weak and hungry. For many days he strode through the desolation, feet tramping through muddy tracks until he could barely move his feet.

Finally, just when he was on the verge of total collapse he came upon the hermit, who was sat outside of a simple wooden hut, eyes closed and legs crossed in the lotus position. The Traveller sat at his feet and poured out his story of isolation and abandonment, letting the poison flow freely for many hours until he felt he could speak no more.

The entire time The Traveller was speaking the Hermit just sat and waited, never speaking, never opening his eyes: barely even moving. It was only when the last of The Travellers words had trickled to a halt that he opened his eyes and acknowledged the presence of his visitor.

Without a word the Hermit opened his hands and gestured to a small daisy that lay on the grass between them, almost crushed by their feet.

Just for a moment The Traveller saw the flower through the eyes of the old man, saw it as a thing of unique beauty. Its petals were bright yellow against the green of the stalk, its head standing tall and proud. It was as if someone had distilled everything that made a flower and poured it into this single daisy.

And then he looked around what he had taken to be a barren landscape and saw that the hills were full of daisies.

He saw that the grass was green, the sky was blue and the sun was bright and warm on his skin. What he had taken to be a barren and desolate land had all the time been beautiful, hidden from him only by the barriers he had put in place.

Take what you want from this story – but always try to remember that even in your darkest hour there is always beauty to be found somewhere.

You just have to want to see it.

9 comments:

English Rider said...

Good story. I can feel that you are redirecting your energy back into a positive direction. I hope your landscape is soon covered with daisies.

the watercats said...

Lovely story..... my personal coping mechanism is realising that we a fairly insignificant species, living on a rock, which spins at a billion miles an hour in infinity....... it kind of puts pissy things in perspective.... :-)
I imagined the fella as a bloke called Sid, a picture in marks and spencers slacks and hush puppy shoes.. the hermit's name was Callum and he plays a tamboreen.. cheers matey!

Anne-Marie said...

I love this story, thanks for sharing it. I hope you are okay, dear Hungry Pixies. Sending you a cyber-hug.

india said...

i like your daisy story...when things get a bit much for me i wander outside and gaze up at the stars. makes everything down here piffling by comparison.
best wishes
india

Roxy said...

Pixie-Man, I sense a theme between this piece and your last one (wednesday, 4am) .... and I like them both for different reasons. But, THIS one - I like it, because in its simplicity there is a very very complex lesson ... and it makes me wonder which flowers I have missed in my travels lately. I appreciate the small moment of time for reflection you seem to have created in my universe. BTW, thanks for your support - you are NOT at all a cheapskate! I feel like I should send all my fellow bloggers a big hug for all their support over the years ... where do you think I get the inspiration to write??? xxooo Roxy

pohanginapete said...

This rings so true. I work hard on noticing things, but it's so easy to get caught up in the urgency of life and fail to appreciate all those wonderful, inspiring details. Ironically, I often find it easier to appreciate things like those in cities — perhaps because I miss them, but mostly, I suspect, because I love their defiance: their will to thrive despite their grim environment.

Thanks for the reminder :^)

Argent said...

I can't really improve on what the others have said. I think this mechanism of deliberately seeing things in a different was is called re-framing by psychologists and is a powerful tool - but you've got to make that effort. Let's hope for more daisies.

Friko said...

You only have to want to see it.

Not entirely, you only have to have somebody point it out to you and have eyes to see it and want to see it.

Like you say, there are daisies everywhere. I am glad you thought of this story, you must be on your way up out of the black hole.

I am so glad.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

English - thanks. Glad you enjoyed

Watercats - Sid and Callum eh? Interesting :)

Anne-Marie - consider yourself cyber-hugged back, dreadlocks and all

India - yes indeed. I often look at the sky and the clouds and am humbled. Perhaps we may be looking at the same stars at the same time? you never know...

Roxy - that's the trick i think: to alway try and find that time to notice what others miss and i think you do - else you wouldn't be such a damn fine writer

Pete - very true. If you want to look at how insignificant we really are look at how quickly nature reclaims abandoned land.

Argent - that is the problem: when you're down in the hole its very hard to see the daisies

Friko - yes. Sometimes you need the people around you to remind you that there is still goodness. Thanks