“My original idea was to make a living mandala from fresh flowers. I had chosen this because I find the mandala aesthetically pleasing and like to draw them. I find it soothing. Upon further reflection and thought I decided that my mandala would also be a steering wheel of sorts. The idea behind the steering wheel actually came to me from an episode of The Good Wife when an interviewer asks Alicia Florrick what she wants and she answered, “I want a happy life and I want to control my fate.” This is a statement that I identify with very much as at different points in life it can seem that we aren’t really in control of our fate or the shape and paths that our lives take. While it is clear to me that there really is no such thing as being in total control of our fate as many circumstances are dictated to us and such is life, I am certain that embracing this fact is easier when it is done with a life full of inward reflection, intention and spending time doing busywork that brings you joy (such as flowers, drawing mandalas or any hobby or pastime that brings you a sense of accomplishment, enjoyment and satisfaction). This in turn creates an “illusion” of being in control of one’s fate or choosing your life’s content and in the meanwhile, helps you enjoy the ride.
A couple of days prior to starting the actual work on the project, I was speaking to a fellow classmate and we bounced ideas off of each other about our projects. We started brainstorming songs that reflect the central concept that I was trying to put forth as it was difficult for me to articulate. I asked her if she knows the song by The Byrds “Turn Turn Turn” and she said, “Yes! It’s Ecclesiastes and it’s perfect!” She ran to get a book with some commentary and really brought it all together for me when she read me this interpretation:
The central idea is that it’s exactly life in the shadow of “death” or to be less extreme and appropriate it to my main idea – feeling in control of life and enjoying the path whether it is chosen or not, in the shadow of all of those things we would not necessarily choose for ourselves (chores, pain, mortgage, hardships, suffocating routine, loss) that awaken us to realize that life is short, life is a gift and there are no do-over’s. So in this short life we must find joy, pleasure, meaning and contentment in the little things; in the boring things; in the uncomfortable things. Assigning intention and meaning to these things will make for an enjoyable ride; maybe even a life where one feels they are actually steering themselves because of the intention and meaning they put into all elements of their life – good and bad; those things we chose and those that were chosen for us based on fate and life’s circumstance.
The materials I used:
To make the wheel I repurposed a couple of old shelves and a broomstick. I enlisted the help of a neighbor who has a few power tools and then painted the construct for my design – a ship’s wheel. Choosing the flowers wasn’t easy because I am drawn to flowing flowers and usually stay away from the perfectly round ones. However I knew that in order to create something symmetric that resembles a mandala I’d need flowers with distinct shape and borders. Hence I chose chrysanthemums and Gerbera which aren’t my favorites at all but they serve a purpose and so even here you can find an example of accepting certain choices that I was “forced” into that I am choosing to embrace understand and feel gratitude for, as opposed to feeling limited and upset. The central circle in my mandala represents all that is bountiful in my life; family, friends; sweet memories, hopeful future, life lessons and experiences that have created this core over time. From there I tried to make the rest of the mandala aesthetically pleasing to the eye with symmetry, leaving some areas with pebbles to represent things that are yet to come and unknown.The entire experience was enlightening. I thought I was past homework assignments and deadlines but am pleased to learn that I still have it in me. It was good to put other things on hold toward this goal”.
Caryn’s reflections on the course:
Orit’s class added so much to my routine. So much so that now that it’s finished, I am constantly searching for opportunities to incorporate flowers into my life. Orit, thank you for giving new meaning to every holiday, birthday and special occasion. Thank you for introducing me to the magical world of flowers and thank you to my friends in the class who made me realize that the human experience is very similar for all of us no matter where we came from or where we are headed.
Photography: Hadas Hernes
On a personal note:
When you walked in with your project I nearly fainted. Not only from its beauty but I was moved to see the journey in which you found a subject you can relate to and developed it into a beautiful project full of meaning and emotion. This is a project that expresses thoughts and emotions and can be seen physically in the flowers. This is the meaning of creating and design! i wish you colorful flowers always.