The American all-girl band TLC managed to be socially conscious without being overtly didactic and moralising in their US No.1 song ‘Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and lakes that you’re used to’. Although the song subtly underscores the AIDS crisis, the lyrics also hint at not chasing after visions without substance and rationale.
An avid photographer at one point, my husband would go chasing after butterflies and birds. He would often ponder upon flowers at length and try to capture their innate beauty and grace through his camera. He firmly believed that honest photographs of both man and nature provide the world a fresh perspective on how the world should actually be seen; in the intricate transient details that salvage eternity.
I remember how he dashed after a butterfly or sat still to observe a bird to capture a perfect shot. I also remember being annoyed and feeling disregarded when we developed our films and found that instead of us, 70% of the pictures he had taken would depict the flora and fauna of the place we had visited.
Although we had many, many beautiful pictures of the wonderful places we visited around the globe, we never quite got the perfect shot. It is only later that we understood that true beauty cannot be captured. You can only live in that fleeting moment and let the beauty resonate with you.
Eventually, we moved on to buy a home fringed by a small piece of land. Not only a nature lover but also blessed with a green thumb, my husband worked on that piece of land like an artist reverently works on his canvas. And just like a vibrant image begins to take shape on the canvas, our little garden began to take form and dimension. Not only was it a kaleidoscope of colours, but also a burgeoning of all kinds of leaves and petals. Since this garden was not pruned or manicured, the gay abandon of plants held a strange kind of appeal. First came the tiny sparrow, then the gorgeous kingfisher, and eventually, the monarch butterflies turned the little piece of land into a visual paradise.
However, this time, both my husband and I felt no pressing need to capture these moments. We were content to watch these beauties unfold their drama right before our eyes. We had come to an understanding that we do not need to chase butterflies; if we mend our garden, the butterflies will come to us. Hence, we all must cultivate the garden within, and once the garden blossoms, peace, tranquillity, beauty and wisdom will settle inside us, just like the dust settles after a rainstorm.