... al the Best MaX

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The wooden spoon award

Botanists and adventurers have climbed Mount Kinabalu since mid nineteenth century. It soars 13,455 feet above sea level - the highest peak between New Guinea and the Asian mainland. Orchids grow there. Cool. Cool growing that is.
Ever chasing orchids along the pathways to Asia and the Pacific I found myself in a bus load of tourists screaming along the shores of the South China Sea heading up the mountain - following an angle on group travel for some magazine or other. Sweeps of sacred lotus streamed by and it would have been like shooting fish in a barrel to stop for the shot but (like most pre-determined package deals) ever onward and upward. No lotus stop. Learn to avoid tour groups.

Passing clouds misted the forest and soaked us to the skin while we anticipated lunch - wrong season. Not a solitary flower to be found. I raced around searching alternative landscapes and, suddenly, fainted dead away. No lunch and no orchids. Lack of oxygen and hyperactive. I should have known better.

Coming to after a little R&R I noticed an honesty box beside a few rough hewn wooden spoons. Twenty cents each and lovingly hand made. The local craft shop. Rough, but real. The spoon was well worth the coins I dropped into the box.

A lesson learned  Shop close to the source where money does most good. AND a good lotus shot beats a fanciful orchid hunt any day. Just remember to jump ship when when the Sacred Red Lotus starts flashing.    MaX

PS  Twenty years on, the spoon still makes a great stirrer.

Go where the wild things are

Rainforests are richly fertile environments - beautiful but perilous places to dwell. Hazardous mountainsides, dank undergrowth, impossible heat and humidity, darkness - everything struggles for light. Strange and often dangerous plants and animals, malaria and a host of other tropical diseases are waiting in the wings. Compare creativity and electrifying big city living to that same steaming scenario. Push comes to shove in the attempt to reach tree tops. Hostile climate. Social climbers. Shy violets. Weeds. Short fuses and tall poppies. Win/lose, law of the jungle prevails. Mind-set works in the same way. 

It takes self-assurance and awareness to dumb down and write an important speech in a language that all understand. It takes self-determination and confidence to dam the flood of fear you feel preparing to sway a live audience. Writer, actor, artist, only the singularly sure footed succeed. Courage friend, there are ways to live in sunlight, breathe fresh air, and arrive at a peaceful place. The orchid in the canopy of the dense evergreen forest does just fine. 

Be the orchid. Adapt to climate change. Find an environment that works best for you. Science reveals orchis has flourished for a hundred million years, doing its own thing. Similarly, I write in midnight hours when locals are asleep but my world is awake. By day, I play the mechanic oiling works. To each his own. 

ps. Henri Rousseau was a self-taught artist who began painting in his forties. He was unique and unaware establishment artists considered him untutored. People said he painted like a child. Rousseau's paintings have humour, and mesmerizing, eerie beauty. He said, "The landscapist lives in silence". He never left Paris to paint his jungle scenes.   MaX