Today I drove over to the Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanical Garden. If you’ve never been there before, you are missing an incredible treat – that is, if you enjoy green grass, trees, flowers, insects, squirrels and peacocks.
As I entered the grounds of the 215 acre arboretum complex, I marveled at the changes that I see in myself. In fact, if I had looked forward to where I am now 20 years ago, I would not recognize me! I am not where I expected to be by any means, and I am not the person that I planned to become.
Over the past few years, I had to look hard at myself and my life in order to survive and keep my own sanity. I had to thoroughly understand what was important and what was not, and most of all, I had to gain a total confidence in myself and my decision making abilities.
One thing that I gained above all else was an incredible love for this planet, mother Gaia, from the creatures who inhabit her surface to the beautiful mountains, deep oceans and lovely skies. Although there are evil people on this planet who try very hard to make it all appear fragile, dangerous and uninviting, it’s really a very nice place to live.
Ah, I thought to myself as I stood in the doorway leading into the arboretum, I know where to go. The herb garden!
I wandered over, past the lake and jungle (where just a few weeks ago I watched the filming of the television series Invasion), past a pond and onto the path leading to the most special location in the arboretum.
I sat on a bench, dedicated to a couple who passed away some time ago, and took in the sights, smells, sounds and feelings.
I closed my eyes, listening to the bees humming all around me. A jet flew overhead, drowning out the pleasant sounds for a brief time. I opened my eyes and looked around: yes, the bees were still there, going about their business expertly and efficiently. I realized, as I sat there, that I was surrounded by life, thousands of plants, insects, and animals were within a few feet from where I was sitting.
We are all so concerned with our problems. Everything seems so significant. Who is going to win the election? What about terrorism? And oh my, that war in Iraq sure isn’t going well, is it? Yet, as I sat there contemplating the little world of the herb garden, I understood how unimportant all of that really is. It’s all “bad news” and because it’s, well, bad, it grows in significance until the world seems so dangerous.
Add onto that the daily problems that everyone has, combined with the crimes and problems reported by the newspapers and news casters all day long, and well, the world seems so dangerous it’s almost impossible to get out of bed sometimes.
And it’s all so meaningless…
What’s important is being alive, experiencing the world that lives around us. Mother Gaia offers us so many wonders, and add to that the wonders of man, and you have enough to keep you happily exploring for thousands of lifetimes.
I watched a curious ant crawl over the arm of the bench, towards my hand, perhaps attracted by the moisture of my sweat. Yes, it was a very hot day, hot and humid, but the cool breeze made if pleasant to sit there in the shade, on that bench.
I saw a movement to my left. It was a lizard, shifting to catch the sun. I wondered why lizards seem to enjoy laying in the sun so much…
I took a deep breath, and smelled the wondrous smells of the dozens of herbs all around. There was the overpowering smell of sage, mixed with thyme and a few other scents which were familiar but unrecognizable. I felt the gentle aromas enter my nose and move down into my lungs. Ah, those heavenly scents…
Some time later, I decided to wander about the garden, seeing what was around. I soon stopped and watched a pair of hummingbirds fight over something which I am sure made sense to the two of them, but was a mystery to me. These little creatures were locked in mortal combat, a few seconds of furious action, flying wings, high pitched humming and mid-air collisions. It was over as fast as it started, with one of them darting off into the distance. The other one hovered there for a moment, as if silently savoring his victory…
I spied a patch of flowers, and got down on my knees to see what wonders were there. The flowers were yellow and at first they appeared barren. But I persisted, and soon saw they abounded with life!
A bee landed on one flower to collect pollen, and a wasp visited another one, doing something only wasps understand. I watched a fly land on yet a third flower, and I wondered, what in the heck does a fly want with a flower? I saw ants crawling up and down the stems, and a ladybug crawled underneath some leaves. I looked closer, and saw some very tiny, gnat like creatures on one of the petals, doing something it thought was very important, I am sure.
A butterfly landed less than six inches from my hand, and I saw a lizard intently watching the orange insect from under a bush. Alas for the lizard, the butterfly didn’t come close enough, so it’s meal got away.
I looked at the leaves under the flowers, and noticed more insects crawling down there in the shade. Further down, deep in the grass, I spied a grasshopper, and I wondered how a grasshopper fills his (her?) time.
I heard birds chirping, looked up, and saw sparrows and other tiny birds flying through the bushes. At first I thought they were playing, then I realized that playing is a human concept. The birds were looking for food, searching out nuts and berries and fruits and other tasty things to eat.
I crawled around on my hands and knees, looking at the world of the herb garden, taking in the smells, sights and sounds, for the better part of two hours. It was a most fulfilling and fascinating way to spend the day.
Alas, it had to come to and end eventually, and I realized that my sun tan lotion was giving out due to the sweat. It was a hot day, and I did not want the world’s worst sunburn! It was time to go home, but I knew that the herb garden will be there tomorrow or the next day, waiting for me with additional wonders any time I feel the need to visit.