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Remembering Thich Nhat Hanh
The pond had all but dried up in the drought. Only puddles and patches of mud remained of the little body of water in which Lois had fished for the trout her grandpa had stocked it with each summer. When Grandpa had passed, Mom took over, and eventually it had become Lois’s job to keep it stocked for her own grandchildren.
Today, as she and her ten-year-old granddaughter Sophie wandered through the sad remainder of the site of Lois’s happiest memories, they came across a single lotus flower, it’s beauty shining out from the middle of a mud puddle.
“How is that still alive, Grandma?” Sophie asked. “You said everything that lived in the pond died.”
A hint of warmth bloomed in Lois’s chest as she remembered Thich Nhat Hanh’s inspiring words: “No mud, no lotus.”
To Sophie, she said, “Sweetheart, that lotus is alive here to give us hope that things can get better. Maybe somehow better than before,” though she couldn’t see how. “Difficult things happen in life, but we grow when we have to confront those things. Without them, we have no reason to become stronger or better.”
Sophie regarded Lois with a look that suggested she was pondering her words. Then she said, “I think I get it, Grandma. In a way, the pond drying up is a kind of weird gift. It’s up to us to decide what that gift is, though.”
Lois pulled her granddaughter into a hug. “That’s how I’ve always thought about it.” Tucking away her sadness over the reality that she still couldn’t see how any good could come of this, Lois smiled for Sophie. “Let’s go bake some cookies.”
As the woman and girl walked across the dried up pond toward the old farmhouse, Sophie’s mind swirled with dreams of becoming an environmentalist and fighting climate change.
I created a lot of images during a point at which I didn’t feel up to writing. Image creation requires less sustained mental effort. I later went back and culled through the images, looking for those I thought might make good fodder for story. This lotus was one of them.
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I immediately knew I wanted to base a story on what is perhaps Thay’s (A nickname for Thich Nhat Hanh) most famous quote. For those who might not know, Thay was a beloved and world-famous Vietnamese Buddhist monk. You can read about him here if you’re interested.
How do you approach misfortune? Difficult things occur in every life, yet some people seem to thrive despite this. I don’t think it’s hard to see the good that Sophie is going to create from the family’s beloved pond drying up.
I can’t say the losses in my life never get me down, but I strive to continue to build a productive and fulfilling life, no matter what doors close to me. There’s always another waiting to be opened.