hel·low (ˈhelō/) exclamation. A salutation embodying the vibrant energy found in the color yellow.

01 January 2013

The Art of the Bonsai Potato

Alas, the year of 2012 has closed and the year of 2013 has opened.
Many accomplishments were made during the past 365 days, and I am relatively satisfied overall. However, significantly more is planned to be accomplished in the upcoming 365 days. Is this not man's obvious expectation? While these 3.65 hundred revolutions around the sun are a generous period of time for a great number of goals to be set and fulfilled, the innate state of the human condition is subject to under-performance. As both individuals and society, we are subject to delay and procrastination, sloth and laziness, in addition to all the other Seven Deadly Sins. Almost always, there is an ample amount of time to achieve goals and cap mountain peaks, but we so often resort to pointlessly cutting down that time and rushing at the last moment. We are the hare, but we need to be the tortoise. My overarching goal for the new year is to become the shelled reptile. In order to achieve this, I need to learn proper Zen. Slow and steadily.
The art of bonsai is an act of patience and a practice of Zen. It is a discipline, a meditation, and an expression of beauty. Originating in ancient Japan, this process has been a great practice of peace and reflection, as it allows the mind of an artist to be removed from the body and exist in a larger period of time. Small intervals of work--such as trimming, watering, and transpotting--are completed daily for years. This continual maintenance allows for a gradual growth and fullness of completion.
In celebration of Christmas this year, I received a small box. It contained everything necessary to begin the art of the bonsai potato. Not true bonsai, but potato bonsai. Supposedly, this alternative means of achieving "Zen" originates from the Irish agenda of adopting Japanese culture, circa 925 A.D. This poorly-funded and low-priority initiative resulted in a single volunteer of questionable mental ability, Kieran McGlynn, traveling to Japan to explore the culture and arts. Having poorly documented accurate details about bonsai plants, he returned to Ireland to begin cultivating potato growths. Considering potatoes are self-sufficient vegetables, care for them does not involve feeding, watering, sunlight, or TLC. Stems and sprouts grow from their eyes and become branches that can be pruned and formed in unique fashions. After reading the diminutive 31-page palm-sized manual, I discovered this was a satirical poke at the fast-paced and commercialized existence of modern times.
"There just isn't enough time for discipline and patience. The art of the Bonsai Potato can change all of that. You can achieve inner peace in less than 10 minutes a week, guaranteed!*" (7) *This was not actually guaranteed.
 I laugh. I chuckle. I giggle. I weep. Wherein lies the simplistic beauty in the world? Persistence in achieving a goal, by chinking away at it bit-by-bit without seeing a large difference, is an act of authentic wonder. This little bonsai potato kit, with its plastic tweezers and miniature scissors, represents the miserable state we subject ourselves to day-in and day-out. It is a mockery. It is something we hide away in the desk drawers of our cubicles*, where we are slaves with white-collars rushing to complete tasks in the quickest way possible. We crave for meaningful lives and purposeful existences, but cannot take the adequate time to achieve them. We run on a tight-clock in a tight-structured world. Junkies for 'efficiency' and addicts of routine, people in this left-brained society are shackled to the drab life they walked into. They pull up mass-produced paintbrushes to artificially illuminate their world.
In other words, we buy yoga mats and imported tea to grasp at some form of peaceful meditation. We create melted crayon portraits from step-by-step directions on Pinterest and call it 'art.' We desire class and style, so we buy pre-ripped jeans or pre-sun-bleached furniture. We live under artificial light and claim to see. We are living the art of the bonsai potato--the act of passive existence--by missing the most important aspect of anything--the spirit. In order to truly achieve the peace or satisfaction we desire, we have to slow down and act with wholesome consciousness. Art cannot be rushed and Zen cannot be scheduled.
This year, I aim to step further away from the art of the bonsai potato and search for achieving Zen in  its true spirit. I will continue to grow as a person; mentally, physically, and spiritually by subjecting myself to new, uncomfortable and challenging experiences. I will live in different environments, continue to sharpen my skills and focus on my areas of interest. Most importantly, I will chink away slowly and steadily at my largest projects and loftiest goals.

*Potatoes are placed in drawers because they grow best in dark, warm, and moist environments.

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