Let the Plants be Your Video Camera
It is clearer than a Conon EOS-1DX. I can see each and every detail without having to rewind the tape, since the memory is backed up in my heart.
With today’s technologies, it is easier for us to capture and keep precious moments of our lives. The world in which we live gives us a lot of opportunity to encapsulate what is important to us. But wait–we must back those important things up to iCloud and Google Images because our phone might decide to betray us after a good swim in the pool. Because good memories can heal a person quicker than any medicine can, let’s show our memories that they’re just as important as the thing we decided to save in the Cloud, and save those memories in our heart. A place we can always refer back to.
Take a moment and find the greatest moment you’ve captured. What is it? Did you back it up just in case something happens to your device? If you have not backed it up on your computer or the Cloud, don’t do it. Instead of taking your time doing that, start restoring the moment in your heart. Just take a deep breath. Look around. Remember the faces, figures, smiles, and especially the feeling. Don’t let your camera lenses blink, let your eyes do that job instead.
Everyone has something they call “favorite”– a favorite person, a favorite season, or a favorite blossom. What is something I call “favorite,” you may ask? It’s an Ochna integerrima, or, hoa mai. A simple collection of yellow flowers that has the largest gigabytes. Hoa mai captured the long history there was since the day I’ve known how to feel. Growing up in the countryside of Hue, Vietnam, each year when the Vietnamese New Year, or Tet, comes around, houses are filled with hoa mai. On those days, the New Year sun reflected richly on the pure, yellow petals of the flower. I remembered the big hoa mai pot in our front yard. After years and years living with our family, the plant has come to its comfortable home in the pot my dad made. The plant has its own way of keeping its body image as it ages. The body is curving and bending while the branches gently reach outward. The small petals bloom gently on the branch. Each of the small petals modestly greets the pure sun light on the New Year morning while the other buds still shyly embrace themselves. While I wake up early on the first of the New Year to put on my New Year’s outfit, the hoa mai is putting on its smile and getting ready to release the flavor of Tet.
I remembered when I was little, this small beauty would give my dad, as well as other people, a hard time when taking care of it. Weeks before New Year’s Day, when we hear the spring singing as it comes close and the hoa mai still does not yet have mature buds ready for New Year’s Day, everyone would wrap its pot up in a wrapper and find the warmest light bulb to keep the plant warm so it could bloom in time. For how long I’m not sure, but hoa mai has been the most important representation of the Vietnamese New Year.
When technology was not dominant, Tet was in everyone’s heart. It was the time where the people who lived around us, the people we saw, talked to, and interacted with became part of a good memory. I remember, during the three days, if not on the first day of the New Year, you can expect three things when you enter someone’s house: melon seeds, melon seeds’ coats covering the floors, or a pile of melon seed coats in the corner. Traditionally, sweeping the floor on New Year’s Day is a way of sweeping luck out instead of welcoming it in. With melon seeds being the iconic New Year snack to enjoy while everyone is together, there’s no way of avoiding the mess.
Moving to the U.S. when I was young, how do I remember all the details? It’s true there are things on the internet, and the tradition is every year, but how did I remember all the first hand details? It’s because I backed it up in the hoa mai that I kept in my heart. Instead of trying to capture the perfect picture of Tet using expensive devices, I captured it with my eyes.
We can find the most expensive camera that gives us the truest picture and sharpest resolution, but there is nothing we can capture with our phone that has a richer feeling than the one we capture with our eyes. You can use the picture you store on your phone as a reminder of the feeling you store in your heart about a certain moment, just like how I use the hoa mai to wake up the priceless memories of my childhood. It’s true, but instead of depending on something as breakable as technology to tell you what the best moment in your life is, let the natural world around you help you do that. The next time you find happiness, let that happiness sink into you, don’t ask for it to pose for your photoshoot. The next time, take a moment, take a deep breath, go outside, and find yourself a tree, a plant, a flower–something that brings you happiness. Let that something be your camera.