2015年4月4日星期六

The Seedlings

Life and work were not so tough and chaotic before 2014. Many would argue that is because I had not lived a real life before that. I guess they may be correct but it does not really matter. Time gone is gone; life spent is spent. Regrets fuel sufferings; grievances only prolong failures – but who can resist them if we are honest to ourselves? So, the year passed like a city man treading through a marshland in his best suit. However, now looking back, I am amazed that it passed so fast. Regrets and grievances I still have some, but treasures and delights were also unearthed from the memories of my younger years and I have revived my affection for two long forgotten pastimes. One of them is potting plants.



More than three decades ago, I was an enthusiast of Saintpaulia or African Violets for about three years. I managed to grow many pots of them from a few leaves but the whole collection was discarded when I moved back to live with my parents. Late last summer, in the middle of all troubles, I decided to pick up a hobby, hoping that it would distract my fixation at the unresolvable miseries. One afternoon I was babysitting my mother at her place, while flipping through a horticulture book, I told myself I was going to grow my own plants from seeds. That evening, I strolled around a local kitchenware shop and bought three cheap soup bowls, thinking that they would look good for potting small plants. The next day I got a bag of potting soil from Japan Home Centre.


For the next three weeks, I checked the pots every morning before brushing my teeth, expecting to find the spouting of the seeds. That was a long three weeks and I was so tempted to loosen up the top soil to check if the seeds were rotten. Finally one morning, the long waited delivery arrived and the first green tip broke through the soil. I was over-joyed and bounced around the dining room. I reckoned it was my greatest present of the year. I nearly missed the latest train to work after spending more than twenty minutes to take photos for this tiny little seedling - it is not easy at all if you are using a compact camera. I missed my breakfast too but who cared for those lukewarm instant coffee and two slices of buttered brown bread. It was my birthday but I was anticipating more troubles at work.



Thereafter, I was enslaved by these little green bits! They became my obsession, at least for some brief moments. My first hello of the day went to them in the morning and so did my last hello before I took off my sweaty socks after work. Unstoppable smiles sieved through the skin of my face whenever I saw a new sprout; silly chuckles broke the dull and tiresome morning silence whenever I took pictures of them on a bright morning. The first day after my birthday came the second green seedling tip and the third, fourth and fifth came the day after. On the seventh morning, there were more than a dozen and by the end of the first fortnight, the pot was like a mini-garden. Those little fellas grew fast, really fast. It was a delight to watch them grow and see them change. And, if you are respectful enough to wait and see, you will find that they actually dance synchronously like ballerinas under the sun. The only difference is that their graceful movements keep going on while sunlight lasts.  This is a slavery that I enjoy.


So, slavery still exists in this part of the free world and I have been one of those enslaved. The frightening reality is that the world is built on a gigantic network of slaveries and that I contribute to the strength of this system as both a keen imposer and an enthusiastic receiver of slavery. Wow! Aren’t we all schizophrenic, I wonder?  The saving grace is that amidst this inevitable tragedy, I now see that I can choose where to put my loyalty on. Subservience to the almighty power of matching the demands of bosses, paying the monthly mortgage of homes, increasing wealth for older time, keeping up the image and dignity one portrayed himself among people, maintaining harmonious relationships, fulfilling one’s dreams for his children and many others are all fine by themselves. Yet, the Why, How and What entails are totally different stories and they are all written on the face of every moving human being and I am no exception. My stories were also told through prolonged pains on my neck, shoulders and back, shortness of breath after walking up two flights of stairs, outbursts of temper or swearing at someone I care, over-due utilities bills, having dinners while the fast food restaurant stopped taking orders and going to bed without a bath! Of course, there are many more on the list.

However, I am glad that I am also enslaved by these trivial little seedlings. Choosing to submit my time, mind, attention and curiosity to them, the other masters of slaveries are dispelled at least temporarily, and I receive a blended sense of life, joy, hope, contentment, possibility and love as a reward. It lingers on to help me survive the fear of being late, the preoccupation of my rivals up against me, the urge to shout at others and the reluctance to smile and say Hello. It doesn’t last long each day but long enough for me to appreciate that we can choose and change.

These little seedlings are marvelous. They are the commonest species you can find and worth close to nothing and they are not going to flower or bear fruit in this tiny pot, but they tell a great story – life has an innate vigor to flourish and survive difficulties however humble and lowly it is if it is given the opportunity to sprout. I realize I was given that opportunity and it is my responsibility alone to let it do its job…before I leave the stage. So let yours do the job as well. We would be amazed by ourselves, wouldn’t we?




45 則留言:

  1. It must be so exciting to see the green bit coming out! Yes I love that experience too! I think it shows how amazing life means to us, not to say a mini seedling. Life itself is just too wonderful to comprehend.

    Happy Easter Gravel !

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    1. Hi Autumn,
      It is a wonderful experience to see them coming out after a long wait and see them grow, and some sadly die.
      Yes, even a tiny little seed shows such vigor of life and the seedlings do remind me of such power at times of difficulties.
      Thanks that you are so soon to come and share.
      Wish you a great new day.

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  2. So, is this the gardening that you told me about last year?
    Seeing the sprouts pop up indeed brings you joy. Looking at the pot with countless sprouts standing there, I can picture them all singing "happy birthday" to you.
    We do have a lot of plants, bushes and trees in our front and back yards, but I rarely stay out there to admire them. It's just once in a while I would admire or take pictures of them when they're very beautiful ..... haven't done that for a long long time, though. In the office, however, I do have some very healthy and beautiful plants which I would water once every Friday before leaving work for the weekend. When I'm tired, frustrated, angry, about to lose my cool, in addition to sighing heavily, I would also walk around to look at them, touch them and ... even talk to them.

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    1. Hi Crystal,
      Yes! this is the only gardening I can afford!. I have no front or back gardens here on the 20th floor and no balcony but a few eastward windows. Maybe I should call it planting instead of gardening. But, I still like to think of it gardening in a virtual garden in my cluttered home.
      I can see you have some beautiful plants in your previous writings. More and more colleagues in my office are keeping plants and I wonder if it is to do with the stress at work which does not seem to improve.
      Spring must eventually arrives over your side, so enjoy the great time of the year.

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    2. Yeah, spring is here eventually.
      It's 4 to 16 degrees Celsius today. It may sound cold to you, but it's very warm to us.

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    1. Yes, can't find other things that show such vitality.
      Have a great holiday.

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  4. From seeing the green, with having peace of mind , it's a piece of cake in our life. Life is amazing, enjoy living is an Art. However no one can reach the top without climbing the stairs???? If we know ourselves more, understanding others more, ........out life will be more easy as a bird flying in the sky ?

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    1. Hello uncledan,
      You are right, life is amazing and living is an art. It can be an easy job to live one but it can also be a very difficult one depending on how we see it. Talking about climbing to the top, I think I really need to have more exercises and more often! I wish you are doing well yourself and so are the kids staying with you.
      Have a great April and I believe it is spring time over your side now.

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  5. Spiritual pleasure is hard to operate, and happiness will be haunted by our side ... The process is the most important. Enjoy the endless fun !

    people imagine that they haven't got time for that most important task in our life: to make life worth living ie. to learn to enjoy whatever life has to offer to us and thereby make ourselves more appreciative of what we have, making ourselves a little happier and in the process become a source of joy for others too .......

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    1. Josephine,
      You are right, such pleasure is not easy to hold in hands especially when all in my mind are about work and all sorts of interpersonal issues. I guess we have to learn the skill and get used to it. I start to think it is not mainly because of the lack of time that we cannot reflect on our life but our reluctance. It can be a lonely but hopefully fulfilling journey.
      Have a great day.

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  6. 每天看着自己種嘅植物生長、可以說是樂在其中。

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    1. 是的,由等待種子發芽直至它們長出一片一片的綠葉真是一種奇妙感覺。雖是平常不過的事,但當心思放在它們之上,卻有意外驚喜。
      祝新一天愉快。

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  7. 全情投入去哉種,進入忘我境界,這段經歷值得回味!

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    1. 對呀Key Case! 這也是我意料之外。當忘我投入那過程,雖然祇是短短片刻,卻可把令人煩悶的思想暫時推在一邊,尋回少許歡愉。
      祝你新一天歡愉。

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    1. You mean the seedlings? I don't think so, but their fruit definitely yes!

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  9. Dear Gravel,....我的感想是,假若這些植物比喻我們的生命,相信悉心的栽種才有美麗的花開,仿如我們的生命要活得精彩,就要我們悉心付出一樣.....。

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    1. 翔流,說得對呢。悉心的栽種才有美麗的花開,有了花開才有機會結果,才知道那是甜或酸的果實。生命要活得精彩,就要我們悉心付出,但可能要比栽種植物多出不下千萬倍呢。努力吧,祝你繼續活得精彩。

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  10. Hi Gravel, your longing for the seeding to become a plant has reminded me the experience in waiting for my baby to be born. The moment I saw my new born baby, I was in tears with excitement and joy. It was totally worth the wait. I am happy for you! : )

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    1. Hello 小猴,The waiting is really a strange experience - it's the whole process of expectation from nothing to gradually happening. The process also took away some of my pre-occupations, mostly from life's stresses and pressures. Somehow that makes me understand that I can still have some control over myself and my mind.
      Have a happy new day yourself.

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  11. Amazing seedlings! And you have done a good job for the urban greening!

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    1. Yes! They are amazing! Urban greening? I think it is more like private or personal greening. Maybe they help by making the owner a less corrupted urban-destroyer. Hope you have had a great weekend. Have a good new week.

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  12. I seldom buy fully grown pot plants but I love to buy baby plants or even seeds to start with. The pleasure of seeing them taking roots, giving off sprouts and flowering is beyond words. It's not a matter of being enslaved by your darling plants but the joy of seeing life prospering under your tender loving care.

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    1. Hi Peter! I can see in your earlier writing that you do grow plants from seeds or baby plants and many of them are adorable in your hands. I agree that seeing plants spout and grow is quite an experience beyond description and I must say it has a rejuvenating effect on the grower and seer, at least for me. The use of "slavery" or "enslave" may be rhetorical, but that reflects the intensity of the joy experienced with these little plants and disgusts of the daily life.
      Tender loving care, your plants must be proud of themselves.
      Have a great morning with your darling plants.

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  13. Shh, keep silent. The baby plants are sleeping, if they woke up, Gravel would kill me.

    I never buy seedling to sow because it's a hard job, I really admire your patience. I like baby plants; it's easy to take care. To which, I get them at flower's market. I had too many plants but left them in my former office when I changed to a new office. And I keep a few plants at my home & my parent's home now. In my experience, it's better to touch or speak to them everyday.

    I recall that you had 羅漢松 which was your birthday gift. Where's it ? Don't give up your breakfast that's the best for health, your family & plants need you.

    Have sweet nights!

    P.S. : Would you please tell me what’s the artistic type of the first picture? I can't recall seeing the picture No. 9 before. The background music is very soft & I like it.

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    1. Yes, it is a great experience seeing the little young plants grow which makes me feel the wonders of life, even though they seem so small and unnoticed. The experience makes me feel humble!
      Half of the 羅漢松 pot died because I did not attend it well but the rest is doing OK.
      The first picture is just a photo of running water and reflections. Bad photography can sometimes turn into something special I think. Number 9 is a sculpture I took when traveling abroad.
      I'm glad that you like the music.
      Wish you a happy and not too busy week.

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    2. Hi, Gravel, I'm apology to bother you, I have written a piece of 詞 that lack photo. I recall your previous writing (i.e. Red Spring Flowers d.d. 1July 2014) and find a photo that is suitable for my writing. I wish to post the said photo to my blog and need you to agree. It's an embarrassed to request, I don't mind you to decline.
      Have a great weekday !

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    3. Hi Joyce,
      Sorry to reply you so late. Of course you can use the photo if it suits your writing. It will be the honor of the photo that you find still useful after the blog writing was completed. It is very kind of you to ask before using it.
      Hope you have a great new week.

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    4. Oh, thank you, my dear Gravel, it's really generous of you to help me. Thanks a lot.
      Good night. Sweet dreams !

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    5. Hi, Dear Gravel, Happy Birthday to a most wonderful person ! God bless you and keep you happy !

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    6. Oh Hi, Joyce! This is really a big surprise for me. Thanks so much.
      I wish you many great and happy time ahead too.

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    7. Thanks a lot, Gravel. Happy Moon Festival to you! :))

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  14. Gravel, I believe you are an emotional and passionate people. So detail of record down your seedling to potting the small plants.

    I also like small plant grow in the small pot as well, it is so fabulous to see the condense of a small life, special you can see them fianlly growth in strong and beauty.

    Regarding to your photo of that half body wooden statue. He seems a bit daze of his life, it is just on the contrary with the growing small plants!

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    1. Hi ykk,
      Thanks you for visiting me. It is really enjoyable watching the seedlings grow. I am so amazed by the changes of the little plants - they change their size and shape everyday.
      Yes, you are right. The statue is totally bound to the ground: it cannot move and cannot grow - sad!
      Enjoy each day!

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  15. It is amazing to see the seedlings grow so strongly and with its own unique way. Your plants are very beautiful and they are full of life. I also have some plants in my office and at home. When I felt upset and frustrated in my work or family, the plants calmed me down and a little smile came from my face. They are therapeutic to me too. It is just a fresh and green color of plants placing in a grey and black colour drawing paper and that give you strength to go on. Life is full of difficulties and challenges. These fresh green plants remind us of the power of nature and we should integrate into the natural environment. I appreciate their characteristics: humble, resilience, full of energy and live in their unique way. Glad to know that these small plants make you satisfied and happy. Hope our plants can survive longer and healthy and we can enjoy our life too!

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  16. I always love gardening and planting. This summer is a blessing because I got a God given chance to visit an elderly lady and share with her about the gospel everyday ! Pray God give her a lifted and joyful spirit one day !!

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    1. Hi Autumn, I guess you must have worked very hard this summer. I hope you are now counting all the blessings you and those you cared for have through you work. Have a great autumn!

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  17. Hi Dear Gravel~ Amazing seedlings!!! You did a great job~ (ˆ▽ˆ)
    Have a nice moon festival !!! ✽-(ˆ▽ˆ)/✽ ✽\(ˆ▽ˆ)-✽

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    1. Thanks Kanis. You too have a great Autumn.

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  18. 久違了! 原來 Gravel 也喜歡灌溉綠色的植物,這是一件很開心的事 !

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    1. 多謝秋葉阿姨到訪,
      是的, 看着綠色的植物慢慢生長真是一件很開心的事!
      很能令煩躁的心情改變為平靜.
      預祝週末快樂.

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    2. 不謝喔! 在室內用水養一些綠色的植物,也很清新悅目。
      好像黃金葛、富貴竹、小紅掌等.......只是久不久換水就成了。

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Thanks for your sharing...