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Lucky Bamboo

August 7, 2008

Lucky Bamboo

 I took a photo of three bamboo stalks a while back.  What interested me was the curling.  As I looked at the stalks, I realized that in its simpleness there is much symbolism. 

Bamboo is a Chinese symbol for longevity.  It earned this distinction because if you ever had bamboo grow in your yard and tried to get rid of it, you realize that bamboo is hardy.  It springs back even when you have pulled all the stalks year after year.  The bamboo root system is extensive and prolific.  Despite my efforts to eradicate the plant, every year the tender stalks poke their way through the underbrush.  Its endurance and adaptability are a lesson to us all that the secret to a long, happy life is to go with the flow.

It is significant that there are only three stalks in this vase.  You’ve heard people say that “things happen in three’s.” 

Three seems to have a completeness about it.  Many phases of life and other references exhibit how three is important in understanding higher concepts of life.  Take these for example:

  • child/adult/senior
  • mother/father/child
  • life/death/rebirth (meaning life after death).
  • birth/life/death
  • red, blue, yellow – the 3 primary colors with which all other colors are created
  • three phases of the moon
  • three wishes for a genie
  • three wise men
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • physical, mental and spiritual
  • thought, word and deed
  • animal, vegetable and mineral

In writing combinations of three also appear:

  • beginning, middle, end
  • creating a scene: goal, conflict, disaster
  • creating a sequel: reaction, dilemma, decision
  • three acts in a play
  • rising action, climax, denouement

If you are looking for some real insight, I don’t have any.  I’m just writing whatever comes to my head in the early hours of the morning (1:22 AM).  I could go on and make some connection to the fact that the stalks remain green all year round.  And maybe there is something symbolic in that the leaves, which are much more tender than an oak, are few and appear at the end of the stalk. 

This exercise shows what can happen when you let your mind wander, connecting the dots between the universal truths and that which is real and concrete.  Every writer needs the ability to dream, because that is his or her well of inspiration.

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