We perceive roses to be beautiful because of the silkiness of their petals; the sweet scent of the fresh, shining bulbs, especially when equipped with morning dew; the deep crimson hue we find floating on top of a sturdy green stalk, swaying in a calm breeze… Our eyes admire its simple complexity and transmit a message to our ever-spinning minds that indeed, roses are sacred. With this obvious beauty, has anyone truly considered the thorns?
Sitting in Noah’s hammock and looking up at the ceiling to see a gecko. Drifting my gaze to the lean, towering leaves of the plant at my feet and the small, dainty and impressively brave ones on either side of my head, leaves and branches proportionate to one another. The openness of the balcony allows the plants that are distracting me from my troublesome thoughts to branch out and over into the majesty of the sky, reaching for the deep clouded plush, which protect the setting sun from rapidly falling into the busy scurry that is Wat Bo road. Since I am safely cushioned between this hammock and the trusty greenery, I let my imagination dance.
I envision climbing the green shoots to the top where giant palms rest, holding onto the branches of the impressive neighboring bushes, if necessary. When I climb as high as I can go, all the way up and out over the balcony, I follow the path that has now opened in the midst of the white fluff in the sky, trailing into the sun. I walk full heartedly knowing that the comfort of the hammock is behind me and now I am supported by the clouded path as I venture into the evening sun. I am light and enlightened. Aware. Alert. Aware enough to take into consideration my unfolding skyway path in relation to the birds that I admire. Appreciate. Praise. I model my route after theirs, natural and flowing, organic and free. I am stunned by an image down below, looking to find myself and my passionately burning partners laughing and getting to know not each other—we are beyond that—but Kampuchea’s land: its soil and its people. Alas, a rose. Rather, three dozen roses, blooming right in front of my eyes, all around me, sky being replaced by crimson beauties at rapid speed. I am in a sea of roses, dethorned; added beauty. And yet I find myself in a trance, deep in thought, wandering around the idea of an un-thorned rose.
Could it be? Could the same kind of everlasting beauty exist free of thorn? If not, where is the praise to the thorns? Blistering rays from the other side of the world reach my companions and I down below and hound our backs, arms, feet with reminders that we are humbling ourselves and caring for our Mother as one mind pulsing through seven bodies, woven between smiling school children and strikingly wise village elders to infuse fresh crops whose beauty will hopefully cultivate for the rest of the season. And yet, the challenges that reside in living off the land propose extreme discomfort, certainly arduous work rituals that every Cambodian confronts, and still: unwavering grace in the land and its people. Above, I close my eyes and let my skin feel the breeze that only the birds and I fully understand. My face brightens. I come to the realization that these rogue emblems are not dethorned—on the contrary, they are fully thorned. However it is because of these thorns that the deep sea of red exists, for without them there would be no stem grand enough to support and protect such vials of breathtaking sweetness.
We look at a rose and only see its thorns as dangerous, if at all. What we don’t see is the love and appreciation the two have for each other. The unthorned stem is not strong enough to carry the rule of the flower by itself, hence the protective and powerful safety of its thorns. Their relationship, however, is what pushed me to see the sea of roses without the thorns, rid of danger. The thorns will always exist; without them, I will repeat, we would have no flower.
My fantasy is drawn to a close and I am left with a more set sun and glances to a newly joined friend in a chair a few feet away. I am still in my cocoon, appreciative of the surrounding plants that transported me to that special place in the sky, but I feel as though my time in this moment has sufficed. So, I get up and walk over to my thoughtful partner to prepare for our upcoming days. And within the steps from my sheltered mind to the solstice I found in my friend came a thousand thorned crimson beauties.