There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Monday, March 28, 2011

a wish for Japan

EARTHQUAKE, tsunami, meltdown. The three words describing the current series of chain-reaction disasters in Japan can be expanded into describing what is happening worldwide in a broader sense. The Earth is quaking under our not-so-careful stewardship. There are waves of unrest all around the world rising in revolution. Economic upheaval is threatening a way of life we thought could continue unchecked. We are being shaken to the core. The end result of all of this is a disastrous threat of meltdown that will affect lives around the world. The relentless reality of it all is blared in the news every day. How many warning signs will it take? 

ONE HAS TO WONDER what is going on? It seems that we're having to reach for that last hope all-t00-quickly, which comes in good wishes, positive action and movement toward stabilizing our environment. Japan has always been a defiant nation of people—never to be pitied. Many countries of the world are in upheaval, whether it is because of natural disasters or man-made ones—or a combination of both. All I know that positive words and action can change a lot of things for the better. And you don't need an army to do it. The power of one can be multiplied exponentially and be heard around the world. We are all connected in a more profound way than any time in history.

IN OUR WORLD of control and containment of Mother Nature, we have lost sight of her power and the reminders are getting more and more dramatic. What does it take to awaken ourselves to the bleak future we might be creating? A plea written in my post about the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster bears repeating:

FOR  THOSE  OF  US  who consider our relationship with the natural world as something sacred, we have reached a point of no return—a point where we consider just how sacred it is to us. We are all complicit in the civilization we have created, whether it is having out-of-season produce shipped to us from continents far away or driving our cars to work. Our planet is in distress because of our actions—human actions—and the other inhabitants of this Earth, who we call "wildlife," are left unwittingly to the destruction and havoc we have wrought. At what point do the economics of a situation not matter? At what point do we shift into a collaboration with Mother Earth, instead of a war with her? We, as humans do not hold dominion over the natural world, except in its destruction.

THIS TREE is an impassioned and hopeful wish for the speedy recovery of Japan specifically, but for the whole of humanity broadly. It is all about the unity and positive drive we can have to become better versions of ourselves. We are either in-control or out-of-control when it comes to our actions. It is a simple black-and-white choice. ALL of our futures depend on it. No matter what country we call home, we are all the indisputable children of the natural world. And our Mother is crying loudly. Some of the trees I decorate have become miniature altars of sorts—like this one. This is my small way of sending out positive energy from my little corner of the blogosphere.

FULL CIRCLE | (Top) Circles of multi-colored folded cranes were made by my creative friend Jon Chavez who wanted to give me something back from a gift I gave to him that included the singular folded cranes within the gift box (bought from member Origamiyyc on Ebay directly from Japan months before this disaster). The legend goes in Japan that folding a thousand cranes makes a wish come true. It's ironic that these cranes have traveled from around the world, came back to me in a different form and are now coming to you via this post—pretty powerful stuff I would say. The dogwood branch I used is young in bloom. The legend adopted by the Christian religion says that a flowering dogwood tree was used to make the cross of the crucifixion. Whether this is a blessing or a curse depends on your beliefs. The singular crane at the base of the tree can also be seen in this post and was folded by Atlanta artisan Sachiko Kogure. The egg holder is from the Heartwood Creek collection by Jim Shore for Enesco. The egg is from this season's Easter product line at Target and is covered in origami-like paper (washi) in the style of a traditional Japanese egg decorating technique called kirigami, which uses cut paper. Eggs in the Japanese tradition represent creation, new beginnings, life and friendship.

FOLDED WISHES | (Second from top) In the case of this tree, I am using the dogwood branch to symbolize resurrection and regeneration for Japan. The multi-colored cranes represent the people of all nations coming together to assist in this effort.

LOTUS LORE | (Third from top) The lotus flower at the base of the tree is a very good faux stand-in from Michaels. The lotus flower has rich symbolism in Japan and is one of the most poignant representations of Buddhist teachings: The roots of a lotus grow in the mud, the stem rises up through the water, and the flower lies atop above the water's surface, reaching the sunlight. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment.

MUSHROOM LIFE | (Above, bottom) These mushrooms from Pier 1 Imports are reminders of the tenacious and magical quality mushrooms have—existing as symbols of life that pop up in a substrate of decay, adding a smiling element of surprise along with the fresh grass blades "growing" next to them. The antiqued wooden Chinese container from Homegoods stands on "stilts" above the surface of the round wooden table from Marshalls, which also represents the red circle of the Japanese flag.

PASSIONATE POSTERS | (Below) This series of inspired posters were designed by talented Japanese Canadian designer Linda Yuki Nakanishi (Left). They were created as her wish to give something back to her beloved country after realizing the gravity of the news from Japan. The descriptions below are in the artist's own words. All profits from her sale of these posters will go to the Canadian Red Cross efforts for the victims affected by the recent earthquakes and tsunamis. You can purchase one or all of them here.

MELTDOWN | This poster (Left) pays homage to the Fukushima 50 that volunteered their lives to stay behind to control the nuclear reactor. Each hexagonal shape in the Japanese pattern represents one of the Fukushima men. The crane flying up out of the nuclear meltdown represents honour, loyalty and longevity. Honour and loyalty, which was evident by the courage of the volunteers, and longevity as a wish for their safe return and health.

TSUNAMI | This is the second poster (Left) in my Japan Earthquake series. In this design I wanted to pay homage to Mother Nature. As destructive and powerful as the tsunami was, it was still an act of nature that was non-discriminating. If anything, the sheer impact of the earthquake that triggered the tsunami should be a reminder to everyone that unexpected things happen every day. Be prepared for what comes and more importantly maintaining grace under fire, like the Japanese people, when it does.

EARTHQUAKE | This poster (Left) represents the resilience of the Japanese people. The lotus symbolizes birth and rebirth, and the red lotus in particular represents love, compassion and passion (much of which is needed for the people of Japan).
The lotus is a flower that is born from the mud of the earth, fights its way through the depths of the water to bloom into the air and sunlight. This is how I view Japan, as a country that teaches their people to be strong and to endure. This is also what my parents taught me, even though we live an ocean away in Canada.

Collecting and styling by Darryl Moland, 
Poster art (and accompanying text) courtesy of Linda Yuki Nakanishi.


  1. I love how much thought you put into your writing and your trees. It is beautiful and inspiring. I hope to have your book sitting on my coffee table in the near future.

  2. Darryl, that is beautiful.. very hopeful and spring-like. I always look forward to your new creations.
    have a great weekend!

  3. I do too! I love the tree