The beautiful and the mundane

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

  • John Keats, from Endymion Book I

Impermanence is one of the central concepts of Buddhism, where it is known as anicca. Impermanence is important because it reminds us of the inevitable cycle of death and rebirth. Flowers are often offered at Buddhist shrines and temples for this reason, and part of the symbolism of the lotus flower is that its beauty fades.

However, a more poignant idea is that the lotus flower is well-known to grow out of mudbanks at the bottom of lakes and rivers, where beautiful flowers surface from the grim and bloom with extraordinary vibrancy.

As I walk around London I drink in images of the things I see and try to hold them close against the ravages of time. The brightly painted houses remind me of beach holidays in summers long since past, the blossoming trees hark back to China and my water colour paintings, traces of those faraway places. These images are my reality, they will become for me my spiritual sustenance.

I peel back the layers and try to slip back a decade, to loosen the ties that bind together the thread of time. I am once again a child, standing in front of a sweetshop, waiting to go in.