A Lesson from Origami

Is the lotus
still a lotus when
I unfold the paper?
Or was it never
a lotus at all because
it was always just paper?
But is the paper
even paper at all,
or is it still the
tree it comes from?
And is the tree
even a tree at all,
or just the result
of rain & seed & soil & sun?
And is the sun
even a sun at all,
or just collected star dust?
The answer to
all of these is both
yes and no.
The sun is the tree,
the paper is the lotus,
the soil is the stars
and yet all of these
are none of those.
So what then makes
any of them anything?
We may call something
a rose by name — 
a lotus,
a seed,
a sun,
a paper — 
but the only name
that all of them are
is Love…
just Love.

I love the poems that leap out of you fully formed, some idea the universe just yelled at you, demanding you to write. This was one of those.

I blame it on a combination of rereading the Ursula K. Le Guin translation of Lao Tzu’s Tao te Ching, a text as beautiful and new as it ancient and old. Originally written some thousand odd years ago, it’s got gems of wisdom that have stood the test of time. And so after reading that, and then deciding to make the little (pictured above) lotus for a friend, the idea for this poem grabbed me and I decided to share it before giving myself a chance to think too hard about it.

That’s the thing with creativity. We often are so determined to put our best, most edited and refined foot forward, that we don’t allow ourselves to just spit something out and love it for what it is. That’s what this little poem did for me today. It made me look at the little failed stack of unfurled lotuses that came before the final one I gave to my friend, and see there was beauty in these “ruined” pieces of paper that couldn’t form the lotus I wanted them to.

We need to remember to let things be as they are, and love them anyway. I hope that’s something you can find a way to do for yourself today.

This post was originally shared on my Substack newsletter, Queery Letters, a reader supported publication. Check it out here & subscribe

Featured photo by Elayna Mae Darcy © 2022

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