March 16, 2009

temporary roses

you could stick 12 red roses in a jar of water for a few days until they wilt. or you could tie the bouquet with silk, carefully suspend the stems until they dry, preserve their delicate beauty for years to come.

i’ve been trying to live in a permanent world for a while. i buy big books that never end, and watch series with many seasons. i keep friendships on life support machines and always always make my house a home.

i’ve just about convinced myself; nothing changes. i’m shocked when my car battery goes flat and my brake pads disappear. i’m amazed when shoes wear out, astonished when knickers tear and taken aback by tired t-shirts.

nothing finishes, there are no endings. a well defined comfort zone, an iron clad status quo. smell the security, feel 'the universal human yearning for something permanent, enduring, without shadow of change'.

my toaster will never break. my boyfriend will always find me desirable. my employer will eternally need me. it’s an illusion, a boring predictable fantasy. i've stopped drying roses.

buddah, nietzche and jesus all agree that pursuing happiness in transient things is futile. buddah suggests removing the desire for temporary things and we’ll all be happy - nirvana. jesus warns against getting attached to things that pass, ‘the grass withers and the flowers fall’.

‘when we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence and that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality’

what is it in me that craves something without shadow of change? that writes a post about permanence? is it just a control freak trying to feel safe and secure. or is it a desperate search for something great and worthy, consistent, steadfast, unchanging... TRUE.

so what does stand the test of time? 'behind the constantly changing bustle of modern culture, feel the assurance of God’s created order and a permanence that will not pass away.' the grass always withers and the flowers always fall, and that underlying order is my enduring truth.

there are two types of people in this world. some dry their roses; string up the stems, lynch the bunch – strangled dead flowers, faded and brittle forever. others display the bouquet where their vivid beauty will surprise every glance, where petals will drop - red reminders of what doesn’t last, and what does.

willa cather
henry thoreau


  1. yes.. i define impermanent things (if thats a word) as 'externals' over which I have no control as they are not within my power to control - i believe once we realize that there is no point attaching ourselves to things which we can't control because they are not constant we will live easier lives... i speak of this from a totally pragmatic point of view for I beleive that these philosophies only exist purely to make existence in itself easier by providing shifts in perspective of an otherwise unchanging situation...

  2. 'an otherwise unchanging situation'... do we have a believer in absolute truth? glad to hear it.

  3. 'My mind is the only thing that i know exists' - it is impossible to prove or disprove so called 'absolute truths' ... 'life' (breathing in and out - heart beat - blood circulation etc) is the otherwise unchanging situation...

  4. Yiwonda, If you know that your mind exist then it's that 'which knows that the mind exists' which should be acknowledged and not the mind itself. You keep at this and you just might become another Aristotle or, most importantly, another Descartes.

    Personally, I'm done with existentialism. It has a way of taking one away from the business of living. which is why I'm not commenting on this piece above. I'm busy breathing in and out, while meditating on the fact the our neighbouring galaxy, The Andromeda, is 190 million light years away.

  5. that which knows that the mind exists' is that which gives me the cognitive functions to type this comment - the brain.. but your brain is much more advanced than mine; I simply don't the mental capability to contemplate a galaxy 190 million light years away..

  6. But that's the point dear. A galaxy 190 million light years away is so profound that when you contemplate it, you realize that all these other petty details we bother about are...well...petty. We somewhat dignify them with our attention which is a shame. The human body is 99.99% space and 0.1 matter yet we are spending all our energies on these other trivial things...

    "Show me the mind of God," said Albert Einstein. "The rest are mere details."

  7. this was a reminder of what matters; great and worthy, true and lasting.
    and a reminder not to focus on transient things... you guys obviously didn't need it !!

  8. still, change is the only constant. by refusing this axiom we force ourselves to suffer from attachment and dependency. dried roses may still have their aesthetic quality, but doesn't it pale in comparison to the living, breathing, pungent rose? when we 'stop to smell the roses' we are appreciating the beauty of now and taking a break from our focus on posterity... which tends to clutter our brains! what good is it to stop and smell the roses when we're focusing on how they could last longer if we cut them and dried them? nothing lasts and happiness is best when shared! (that very last bit not so related but i like it regardless :0)

  9. well, we do like to keep a 'focus on posterity' thing on the back burner so that we don't fritter away our precious life. however i hardly think any of the commentators here are in danger of that! happily, in the midst of life's stresses, we all have little glimpses of transient pleasures which metamorph into sweet memories. occasionally one meets someone who has the outlook of a little child, they aren't in the grip of 'stuff', religious dogma, worry or the urge to contribute to this world; but instead find joy in simple things, work hard, know how to have fun and walk in love towards others. these people are often nuns. without donning the habit, i am envious of this simple faith, where one's security is away, outside this world, freeing one to respond to the trials of life in an unfettered way (we explored the experience of suffering in an earlier blog episode). personally i can't bear dried roses - i always think they look DEAD and ragged, the spirit has gone out of them; i'd rather treasure my memories of their beauty, or forget them (what extravagance!).

  10. i don't 'dry my roses' because i think sentimentality and nostalgia eat away our present. i can also suggest that a lot of our clinging-on is fear of failure and an attempt to put down anchors in a world where we don't belong.
    (i can see my responses have a common theme on your blog, nevertheless,) when you can call off the hounds on the "desperate search for something great and worthy, consistent, steadfast, unchanging... TRUE." it makes the whole thing a LOT easier.

    'You're changing me, but You never change'

  11. Wow, and I do love dried roses!!

  12. In the end Jess, everything temporal is temporary. The search for permanency will be a very long and frustrating one indeed if it aims at finding permanency in the material world (I love dried roses, but they tend not to have their original aroma, and still in the end, they too perish- as do the really big books. I read the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and it too ended somehow!). This search, I hold, must end only in the place where the seen ends and the unseen begins.

  13. A fear of things ending or attempting to hold on to things that will last seems to me to be linked to the fear of our own mortality. Our efforts at preserving treasured objects may be an anology at our hope of being able to preserve our own lives. We know we are going to die but hope we can live on.

    I believe the search for eternity is in our hearts because it was placed there (Ecclesiastes 3:11). It is important to seek after the permanent because until we do we cannot let go of those transient material objects of life. To all you rose sniffers out there there is nought wrong with appreciating God's creation...just remember it isn't permanent.

  14. all u very enlightened people do give me ur details so I can come get them toasters, cars, phones, cash troves that you dont need!

  15. 'They must change who would be constant in happiness and wisdom.'


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