Poets and artists have found inspiration in the beauty of nature for thousands of years. When I was a depressed sixteen years old, I found inspiration and strength in a lotus flower (not literally inside one, I wouldn’t have fit, even back then). You might think I am being a sentimental fantasist, but it’s true. Something about the lotus flower shook me to my core.
The Ancient Egyptians saw the lotus flower as a symbol of rebirth, they saw the lotus flower slip back into the water at night then reemerge with the sun the following morning, its petals unsoiled. Buddhists associate the lotus flower with faith and spiritual awakening. Meanwhile, in Hinduism, the lotus flower symbolises beauty, eternity, purity and spirituality. Many Hindu Gods and Goddesses, including Goddess Lakshmi, can be seen sitting within a lotus flower (she can fit inside) or holding one.
Being a teenager is tough, becoming an adult is rarely an easy ride. In those days I felt disgusted in my own skin, a blanket of dark mist felt over my life. I was convinced that I would be this way forever. I thought that I was destined to be permanently stained by that dark time, I felt broken and lost, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if I bled black. I thought that those who had wronged me had forever tainted my soul and I would never be free of the darkness they had inflicted upon me.
Then I read something in a book about Eastern philosophy which sparked the light of hope, I read about lotus flowers.
“As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world”
The lotus flower grows in the mud, travels through murky depths but blooms above the water towards the infinite sky, it’s petals pristine and untouched. If you’ve had a muddy past, it doesn’t mean that you have to stay in the darkness, with love and compassion for yourself, you can blossom. Yes, sometimes the lotus flower may slip back into the water but you can rise again, re-emerging with a pure heart. The dark earthy water nourishes the lotus flower, just as our suffering make us stronger and wiser.
Lotus flowers made me see myself in a different light. I knew one day I would be able to shed the pain and emerge from it like a butterfly from its chrysalis (or a lotus flower from dirty water). I haven’t forgotten what happened, I never will, but I feel free and clean.