Special for This Month -- July 2002 -

Mandala Taught by Forest [Preface]

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# I’m sorry that the EL web site and my email ability were sleeping for last three months. While the poem corner was suspended twice, my husband and I were in unusual situation. I’d like to tell about the experience here, relating to introduction of a new series [ Mandala Taught by Forest ].

# You are also invited to see some photos and my trial of English haiku during that experience.

# The pictograph above is an image of ‘ After-Rain’ ( A short form of E-Chi/ Earth Language Tai-Chi ) which is told below.

Beautiful Forest In The Pitfall

  There occasionally are pitfalls in life. These might be around you, too, invisibly. By accident, my husband and I happened to drop into one of them. Maybe Nature pulled us into it to remind us of something. We had to crawl out to our usual routine eventually, but as it happens, there was a beautiful forest in the pitfall.

  In Washington state, there is Lake Surprise which suddenly appeared in the early 20th century by spurts of underground water. A beautiful 100 acre forest which belongs to a nonprofit organization has been at the lakeside for more than 100 years, although the next land changed into a large shopping mall, and around there turned into a bedroom suburb of Seattle/ Tacoma. A few years ago, we happened to be given one of the old houses in the forest, and have repaired it during our vacation times.

  This April, our two-week vacation plan was again made to look after the house and plants. My husband Don drove there, about 1000km from San Francisco. But it was an unusually cold, rainy April and no flowers/ new leaves were on the trees yet. We wished to see lilac blossoms which we had not seen there, and we happened to get it. Two weeks vacation turned into three months by accident.

  One afternoon, Don was walking on the forest side paved road, and slipped down in a little mud. It looked like a small accident, but turned into a big one. Carried to a hospital by ambulance, he found his right kneecap broken into pieces, the tendon detached, and his left wrist also had a hairline fracture. After difficult surgery the next day, the leg turned into a log with awful pain. His arm was also in a cast. The surgeon recommended that he should move his foot, but it seemed so hard to him. Because of the reduced movement, his foot became like a large eggplant with more pain. It was the phenomenon of blood clots in his leg; we had been so ignorant about it. We had to know that it’s more dangerous than broken bones, and would need more time and medication to recover.

  Perhaps for around a year, not only his walking ability but also our entire lives must be changed, suddenly understanding this wasn’t so easy for either of us. We began the lives from struggling to go over an inch gap on the ground. The broken knee belonged to Don, but I realized how it had worked for me too, especially for driving. Now I should work for his legs too; it meant the necessity of my driver’s license. Early on, I needed to concentrate on nursing. As his condition got better and better, I gradually worked hard for fixing the house and furniture ( Carpentry is usually my job in our partnership ), and for gardening, then learned to drive, all being helped by our neighbors’ suggestions and assistance.

  During this time, I couldn’t help thanking the medication and insurance systems: this civilized world. If we were inhabitants of the other side of the earth, he might not be saved. I also couldn’t help feeling sort of guilty about global unfairness with the people who lost their legs by land mines. Also I thanked to all our helpers, realizing afresh that humans can’t live alone. I got a chance to feel physically more about life, death, and relation threads from an individual to its families, friends, small/ large societies and the global world.

  For this trip, I unusually didn’t bring any books/ materials of EL with me. The only thing brought in my head was to think about Mandala. That was because:
Last February, there was a symposium titled “Creating a Sustainable Society/ Junkan Shakai( Japanese )” by American and Japanese researchers at the University of San Francisco. They all showed the same Mandala ( a symbolic structure of the sustainable world, in this case ) as MIT professor Susan Marcott’s idea. It had three same size circles combined with each other: the circles symbolized ‘Nature Environment’, ‘Human Society’ and ‘Economy’; “When those three elements are in good balance, the world can be sustainable, but now density of monetary economy is too heavy and strong to distort the world, creating many problems” they explained about this theory and the provisions from each field, and exhort the importance to promote the consciousness to bring up the balance of those three. Japanese ‘Junkan’ means circulation. When all values circulate in good condition, the world must be healthy. I agree. At the reception time, I got a chance to talk with Prof. Murcott. She liked the idea of Earth Language, and asked me to make the Mandala with the EL symbols. It’s easy to translate their English into EL, so when their website would be uploaded, I’d be glad to do it. I also thought that it might be a good chance to think about  Mandala myself too, since EL symbols were good tool for the purpose.

  However nursing can’t go together with deep thinking of other matters. Then I stopped to think and let my body naturally sense in this situation. There were a lot of things to do physically in the house: helping Don, cooking, fixing the interior, washing clothes by hand and drying them out ( my body didn’t like coin laundry ), etc. I could be tired out by doing them. But the forest had a magical power to heal, and invited me to more subjects to work with next to next. WA early summer daytime is long: 4.00am-10.00pm. My body wanted to move around all day long. I was exhausted at night, but morning air calmed down the strain. I found my body healthier and stronger by using it hard. I looked back on human history. Since the beginning until recently, most humans had lived like this, moving their bodies all day long, and letting nature fix them. I realized how I was physically lazy mostly sitting with a computer in the city, and my body found out her nature. Forest life wasn’t so easy; my legs and arms got many bruise and bitten by bugs, the hands became rough, a finger was stung by a wasp, and I always had to be patient with some pain. But somehow still I had joy with working in the forest.

  When Don got released from strong painkiller pills, and started taking walks in the forest with crutches, cherry blossoms had finished, and gorgeous lilacs and rhododendrons bloomed. We often ate outdoors observing our garden and forest. The forest was filled with competitions among plants and animals. All were struggling for their survival. Red cedars and broadleaf woods like maple and cottonwood seemed to have coexisted for a long period to keep the forest in good condition. Under a canopy of these leaves was like a sanctuary for us. But invader ivy and blackberries were taking over some spots. Those leaves and flowers looked nice too, but actually the plants were very tough. Entirely covered by ivy and lost sunlight, some trees were dying. While removing them from our lawn, I learned some nature rules, and invited the tough roots to our/neighbor’s house, making them into baskets, lamps and shelves. ( The photos are here )

  For relaxing after powerful jobs, Tai-Chi worked so well. I especially enjoyed a short form of Earth Language Tai-Chi( E-Chi ) “After Rain” which I made last year. EL signs with body/ arm/ hand shapes and movements symbolize Rain/ The Sky/ The Sun/ Tree… and I become the parts of nature. With the slow movements, breathing and the atmosphere, I felt in communion with the forest/ great nature. I felt that nature also deeply spread inside of my body relating to the outer world. At some moments, I become transparent.

  Standing on a political viewpoint, I approve of the  by the Sustainable Society team. On the other hand, something I can’t get down: Both [ human society ] and [ economy ] are according to humans’ relations and actions, and humans are a part of nature. How could nature be in the same size circles to others? Isn’t nature very much bigger than human existence?  Humans can destroy the environment where humans can survive. But maybe nature doesn’t mind it. If it happened, perhaps nature would just rid of humans and raise tougher creatures little by little at its own speed. Nature isn’t only humans’ mother, but also the great mother of all kinds of lives. And yet human beings are completely depending on nature. Is it all right to forget it? I’d like to bring back modesty in nature including the part which spreads in my own body, and to learn rules from nature more. I’m going to try it as expressing parts of  with EL pictographs next time. ( Entire  is too huge for me )
Don’t you want to think about it together? Please let me know your impressions.

by Yoshiko  July, '02
The Photos and English Haiku Page related to this forest story
(including photos of a wall painting which I painted in the forest center hall at this time)
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