The Beauty of Resilience

By Christina Kim - November 22, 2017


They stand clustered among themselves
A sea of green and sunny shimmer
Slightly distant, apart from one another
Their bodies upright, unswayed by the whispers

The wind blew through, that gust of air
Touching slightly the leafy tips
A light rustle brushes past where
The weakest link of the sturdy keeps

While the wind blows and the leaves whisper
The culm, it does not shiver
They stand still, rooted to the ground
No trace of weakness can be found
(Self-written poem)

Bamboo trees, or plants, as they are scientifically classified, are no strangers when it comes to the world of metaphors.
The thin stalks stand firm to the ground where they rise to towering heights, while remaining perfectly straight without a bend or flinch in the posture.
Sturdy yet graceful, that's what they are, as they stand, hulking in silence.

There are many stories and literal mappings associated with these lanky plants, often referred to when it comes to metaphorising one's speech to relate to the worldly matters.
I am sure we are no strangers to the bamboo; in the context of its solidity and robustness.
As the popular Malay adage goes, "Melentur Buluh, Biarlah dari Rebungnya", which literally means, To bend a bamboo, start from its shoot, in which a similar proverb can be found in the English form, "Strike an iron while it's hot"

The saying goes to show the strength of the bamboo plants, and that it is only at its weakest link or when it is just sprouting as a shoot, can you bend or shape it.
Once it has grown, it is hard and near impossible to change its shape.
The Malay saying is usually used in the context of children upbringing, insinuating the need to educate and discipline from a young age.

There are many more instances where a bamboo is often quoted in reference to its physical properties, metaphorically speaking, if I could name them.

All of them highlights one thing about these plants; the strength of the bamboo.

Personally, I have often found myself in awe of these plants; yet at the same time, anxious around them, thanks to the stories and warnings I have heard of them being the favorite hideout of snakes. 
(Yes, the campers and Scouts alike, thank you for telling me that)

At the same time, the awe comes from the beauty of the plants (bamboos are indeed plants, not trees, as officially classified by science and forestry researches) and the inexplicable mystique that surrounds them.
There is just something sacred and surprisingly tranquil about them (as long as there are sulphur around them to keep the snakes out).

It was the very feeling that I felt when I walked into the bamboo forest of Arashiyama; a very well known location in the historical city of Kyoto.

Surrounded by these lean culms towering above me, they helm a rather mysterious aura and I felt I was heading into another realm.

The cluster of bamboo in the grove just present an air of uncertainty, of where the path leads to and where one will probably end up in.
It is just like life; we are often presented with depictions and roads which we are often excited yet at the same time in doubt and in fear of whether they are the right ones or we are headed in the right direction.

Are the bamboo representations of us then?

They possibly, or most certainly could, or simply, in the way I look at them.

The bamboo plants form the grove; standing in clusters and seemingly close to each other, or rather, giving that impression that they are huddled.
At a closer look, they are actually not sticking nor overlapping with each other.
In fact, they are apart; at a distance from each other (a significantly small proximity).
They are certainly independent on their own, rather than interdependent when it comes to their bare existence.
Yet, is the interdependence totally non-existent?
Perhaps not so.

Together they form the grove, and while they stand in their might, their mass do make up as a collective and rarely, do we picture bamboo as a lone stalk on its own.

To me, the bamboo is a strong symbol of Resilience.
(Note the repetition of strong there)


There is just so much I could relate to a bamboo, or how we humans could.
There are lessons to be learnt and the resemblances could sometimes go by unnoticed.
After all, who would ever think of themselves as a plant, literally speaking?

We are not alone in this world, we are standing among others just like us, yet very different from each other. 
(Even identical twins are not so identical, mind you)
We are independent, yet interdependent at the same time, like it or not.
No man can be an island, besides, can we truly be the only one living on Earth? 
Would we then be named as a human, or are we made known by our identities if we are that one single person on this planet? By whom? Or What?

We don't stick to each other closely, yet we cannot deny that invisible (and visible) connection or relation we have to each other.
They do not have to be explicit.

We can still stand upright, rooted to our own ground and display that strength.

Now, comes to the interesting part of the bamboo plant; the visible and inner strength.

If you know a bamboo plant well, well, you may try to dissect a bamboo and take a look at it.

While a bamboo looks sturdy and all, as we do a cross-section, there is actually nothing inside it, unlike other plants.
It is hollow, despite its strong front.

This is an interesting comparison to us human beings.
Are we really hollow or empty inside?
Do we want to be hollow or empty inside?

No, that is not the case nor the idea I am picturing.

Think of it as there are times when we are just like that, though not all the time.
There are times when we put up a strong front, yet deep down inside, we have that hollow feeling, like we are empty and void of emotions or all that we desire.
I am sure we have all felt like that, at some point or another in our lives.

It is not something to yearn for, but at the same time, it is not all in a negative picture either.
There are times when we DO need to empty ourselves, of the negative thoughts, the past, the bad memories and just the undesirable feelings to allow us to breathe and renew ourselves.
It is only then we could fill ourselves with new experiences and the refreshing feelings of positivity in a whole space.
Feeling hollow is not always a good thing, but it is not necessarily always a bad thing either.

That is where the resilience comes in.

Life can knock the life (and breath) out of us sometimes, yet we cannot fall, we must not falter.
We put up a strong front even when we are empty, but knowing that the emptiness would make way for another whole new experience.
At the same time, we acknowledge that not everyone who appears strong are truly strong and even the strongest of all, would still need comfort in times of trial.
It is just the way life is, for everyone.
We will never be always on top of the world, nor would everything goes our way every single time.

The resilience of the bamboo is seen through its robustness; tough as it withstands the soft breeze of the wind.
It does not sway easily; the culm of the bamboo remains even when the wind blows.
It is only the leaves on its top which rustle with the wind's whisper.
It is not easy to bend a bamboo; especially when it has grown to its adult height.

This is not about stubbornness, but rather, the notion of being strong and holding on to our own identities.
No one can change who we are.
We are in control of who we are.
We should allow ourselves to be weakened by the temptations, the trials and tribulations in life, but we should allow ourselves to be free of negativities and be filled with positivities.
That is where the hollow of the bamboo can be used to fill or allow water to run through; functioning as a pipe, and they are also used to cook rice.
Just like the coconut tree, the bamboo can indeed be put to good use in many different ways.

That is how we should be, allowing ourselves to be vessels of goodness to the society and the world.
Stand strong and firm to our beliefs (only if they are righteous and ethical).

To be upright, clear and faithful; the lessons the bamboo can teach us.

The bamboo is indeed a strong symbol of resilience and walking through the grove, the thoughts and representations resonated with my thoughts.

The beauty of resilience lies not in just looking strong; in the physical appearance, but holding on strong yet knowing when to be free and allowing ourselves to blend in synonymously with the happenings in the world.
At the end of it all, the light will always shine through
(The light will always slip in anyway, we just don't notice it)


It is indeed the beauty of sublime, yet the sublimity of beauty; altogether, in the way of the bamboo~


*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

Art Direction and Photography Styling by Me.
Photos/Videos all belong to me and are copyrighted.
Please kindly ask for permission if you need to use any of my images.

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