I’ve never seen a lotus flower until January 2013, when me and my best friend took a trip to Thailand. It was quite a challenge, to make that trip happen, from her mother’s telling her it was a dangerous place to finding a good bargain. But when you really want something to happen, it does.
We ended up on Phuket island, and the sea there, the Andaman sea, was the best I’ve ever swam in so far. We took a free trip around the island – more of a shopping tour organized for tourists, but we still went by a couple of pretty places and dropped in a temple area. Buddhist temples are beautiful, and the lotus flower – sacred. I saw that flower in a big clay pot, tucked by the sidewalk in between the fleshy bushes.
It was a flower in full bloom, pink shade getting darker at the end of each petal, and covered with the drops of dew. And then I had that feeling, the one I couldn’t tell, but preserved, remembered and decrypted now: that lotus flower for me symbolized the life I was and am yet missing. In Thailand, you can just grow lotus flowers anywhere – the air is humid, and the country is always lit with sun. You can have your own clay pot on the porch of your house and grow your very own lotus flower. And no, it’s not just about the flower. It’s about having a choice whether to grow it or not. The climate’s good, the care’s easy; it’s up to you. You can’t just grow a lotus flower here in Moscow. It’s about having a choice no matter what, whether it’s planting a lotus, moving to another country, starting a family, or quitting your job.
The importance of having a choice! They say, there’s always a choice. But some people just are (or aren’t) selfish enough to make it. To change your life often means changing lives of your closest ones, for better or worse. To have a choice of growing a lotus flower you have to sacrifice something – your comfort, your relations, your moral confidence. Many years ago, my grandfather decided not to go for a final residence interview to the US embassy. But for that decision I could’ve grown in the States (or not), probably had a double citizenship (or not), and had a better base for making my own decisions (and exploring the world). By deciding not to grow his lotus flower, my grandfather spared me of an opportunity to choose; now I have to create such opportunity for myself. I don’t blame him; he was selfish enough; he never discussed it with his family. When I’m making my decisions, I don’t want to be like that.
I was looking at those lotuses in clay pots and small blooming ponds, holding my breath each time a dewdrop made its way down the petal. Lotus in Buddhism is the symbol of purity, fortune and faithfulness. It also refers to rebirth and enlightenment. I guess we don’t just take to things for no reason. A lotus flower is a symbol for me; a symbol to never stop moving and learning and sharing, never give up looking for my place in this big diverse world. And, hopefully many many years later, I don’t want my grave to say “A girl who wanted to grow a lotus flower”. Let it rather be “A girl who grew”.
I cuddle on the couch in our living room with a book and my overly fury cat snoring by my side. I’m drinking water, lots of water. The air here is dry, and the water – drying. Too dry even for me, not to speak of a lotus flower.
During that recent European trip of mine I was wandering through the flower market in Amsterdam when I saw lotus seeds for sale. I bought pink, white and blue ones. And some day I’m going to plant them.