The Evergreen Banyan | Roots of the Soul

I gaze at my long hair in the mirror and notice the greys that are starting to spring forth. The process started when I was in my late teens. There were just a few here and there… And as time passes, there are more and more. Over the years, I’ve heard many people speak of the distinguished older gentlemen. His hair is white, he has wrinkles and he is the established head of an organisation that started at the bottom and worked his way up.

As a woman, I have no such luxury. Apparently my biological clock is ticking and I am slowly getting old.

I started putting henna in my hair some five years ago because the greys were becoming more noticeable. I’m at that age where people ask me about my husband and kids. I’m not married and I don’t have kids. Somedays, I do think about it–that family portrait life. How wonderful it looks in all those pictures. The extended family all gathered together as one gazes longingly at the Patriarch and Matriarch that started it all.

Oh, how nice…

Then I think about the actual act of getting married and having babies… and somehow that picture doesn’t fit anymore.

I have a business to run and I have work to do.

The Dream Office

A few weeks ago, I was given a copy of The Iconic Interior as a gift. The coffee table book features a collection of houses assembled by architects as well as interior and set-designers. As I flipped through the book, my eyes settled on a photograph of the Wharton Esherick House in Pennsylvania, USA. There was a certain fairytale like quality to the house. An indescribable sense of deja vu hit me as I gazed longingly at the wooden places.

There are houses and then there are homes. I wanted an office that felt like a home.

As a writer and editor, I need a quiet space to work. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve never liked living in urban areas. The noise really gets to me.

I daydream of the day I wake up in an area surrounded by natural beauty. Birds chirping. Natural light coming through the windows. Fresh morning air. Insects doing whatever it is they do.

Instead, I am awakened by the sound of white noise. Till today, I am not exactly sure what in the world it is that I’m listening to. Ke-clang. Pe-tang. Bang. Boom. Zzzz. Crack. Grrr… Yes, it is the sound of construction and destruction. Construction of a new building and the destruction of nature.

This has been my morning soundtrack for as long as I can remember. I wake up not wanting to wake up. The noise is utterly unbearable and I cannot take it.

And yet, I must live with it.

We build buildings and call it development–all the while we destroy the environment with unsustainable practices and short-term fixes for long-term problems.

And if the noise outside wasn’t enough–there’s more on my newsfeed. Has anyone noticed how everyone is a teacher these days? There is a seminar for this, that and what have you. They ask for your email saying they will send you an ebook and then invite you to a webinar where they want to sell you something else… and the likelihood of you actually needing it is quite small.

If that wasn’t enough, I know what all my friends had for breakfast, lunch and dinner even though they live halfway across the world. Oh, the lunacy!

In my early twenties, I dreamt of having a treehouse as an office. People around me talked me out of it due to practical concerns. They chided me about choosing a space that had no toilet and electricity for work-related purposes.

But for some reason, every time I have pictured a dream home, I have imagined something earthy, warm, cosy and someplace where I am alone. Yes, entirely alone. I want a space just for me. And no, I don’t want to share it with anyone. It will be my sanctuary.

A place with no nonsensical noise.

That is not to say I don’t enjoy living with others. I grew up in a shophouse on a street where I knew all my neighbours. We were a community. As a kid, I didn’t have fancy gadgets or expensive toys, but I had the power of my imagination. The kids from my neighbourhood would gather. We would play pretend with random things in the house and come up with stories for what it was.

All this modern age connectivity has made us disconnected. There are never enough likes, follows or leads. It is really all too much.

And even if you want to escape it, you cannot. This madness is a part of us. It is why it is out there in the world. It is a reflection of who we are within. Or perhaps–who we think we need to be. A need driven by the ego that traps you into a never-ending spiral of more, more, more.

And no matter how much more we have–it still isn’t enough.

A Business Lesson from Trees

A few weeks ago, I met a Banyan Tree that must have been several hundreds years old. She was very impressive. She stood there, firmly planted to the ground–roots stretching out for over half a kilometre in every direction. She seemed interested in nothing and no one. She wasn’t even interested in making fruits or prettying herself with flowers.

She was doing something that no other tree was doing. Her branches–instead of stretching up to the sky–were returning to the earth where they came from and firmly replanting themselves in the ground. In a world where everyone is trying to outdo everyone else and be taller and better than everyone else, the Banyan remains steadfast and quietly proud–preparing itself to survive for generations.

So now back to my grey hair. As a business owner and a woman entrepreneur (of course, I must attach my gender next to my job), the naysayers are many. I am told to follow what is trending. I am told that I need to do this that and what have you not.

Create controversy! Let’s make a drama out of nothing at all! Let’s be a critic, even though we ourselves have no idea what we are doing! Let’s give feedback that is not helpful at all–because everything and everyone has a cause these days–whether they believe it or not doesn’t matter. It’s trending so I will believe in it. But don’t worry– by next week, I will believe in something else.

In a world where most people are after momentarily pleasure and cheap thrills, I find myself hankering for commitment, loyalty and devotion. People who will hit the grindstone with me and build something to last–much like the evergreen Banyan.

In the midst of all that noise that is causing all the greys… there is a hint of music somewhere. It a soft and gentle melody. It doesn’t cause commotions nor cry out for attention. It is there in the corner, quietly doing what it does best and doing beautifully. It may seem modest, but do not be fooled. There is power in that simplicity. In that certain something that remains untarnished by time.

Over the past few months, many people have called me Saturnian. As a free-spirited soul, it was hard for me to comprehend. I see myself as whimsical and otherworldly–not grounded and stable. After all, I am a writer. A creative with a heart that longs to sing. And yet, the cycles of time have not spared me nor left me unmarked.

I am slowly getting older. The clock is ticking as the sands of time slowly slip through my fingers. And yet, I feel timeless, ageless. Like an old soul who understands impermanence yet remains permanent. I feel that I have been a writer through many lifetimes and this is yet another chapter of my journey.

Perhaps I am not so much planting a seed with this business as I am returning to my roots after reaching for the sky.

I love the Earth. She is my Mother. And after my ascent, I know it is to her that I must inevitably return.

Author: Dipa

Editor-in-Chief at Mith Books | Author of The Little Light and The Merchant of Stories

2 thoughts

  1. A mesmerizing article! I’m just spellbound. It just transformed me into a different world. The world of nature and silence. The world of books and peace. The world that belongs to a writer.

    The dream office is everything I can ever wish for. Sitting in the lap of Nature while writing in complete silence, and waking up to the sound of nature: what else can be more beautiful!

    The ending was unanticipated. Lesson from a Banyan tree! Wow… Only you can do something like that: learning from everything you see around you. A ball of inspiration… To one and all.

    Liked by 1 person

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