My BIG Little World

There are no two ways about it, I’m a bonsai enthusiast!

Meet Merry, my 5-year-old Japanese Juniper Bonsai. Even though she’s small, she’s a full-size tree. And just like any other tree — even a giant redwood — her root system is critical to her stability.

Merry - Japanese Juniper Bonsai

Requiring a fair amount of time and patience, daily I check her moisture content and move her from window to window insuring that she gets enough sunlight. During transport, it’s like holding a forest in my hands, a privilege when you understand that trees are my non-human heroes.

In the human world, my heroes include people from all walks of life who exude hope—a belief in a positive outcome. Their lives reflect their heart’s desire, combined with active expectation.

My mother was a physically small woman, yet she was the biggest person I’ve ever known. Once she set her cap on something, it was a done deal — an attribute that deeply impressed me. She taught me by example that how we live impacts how we die. She lived a life of courage, beauty, and integrity; she died in the same manner.

Who or what is the smallest BIG person or thing in your life?

NOTE: Tradition holds that three basic virtues are necessary to create a bonsai: shin-zen-bi standing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Understand that a bonsai is not a genetically dwarfed plant and is not kept small by cruelty in any way.

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” — Laurie Buchanan

The Book — Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience — Life Harmony

© Laurie Buchanan 2014

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72 thoughts on “My BIG Little World

  1. What a delightful post, Laurie! Interestingly, my partner Sara did Bonsai for a number of years and remains a huge enthusiast. In fact, we recently attended a Bonsai show here in Cuenca. Accordingly, she is my s-hero–small person, big soul, beautiful values. My maternal grandmother was another. At only, 4 foot 11 inches, she was huge of heart.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

  2. Lovely, Laurie! I too had a Japanese Juniper many years ago. His name was, “Frankie”. He was a beautiful little tree. My golden retriever became rather jealous of the wee coniferous cutie, and decided to have him for a snack whilst I was a work. I have always thought it would be nice to get another Japanese Juniper. Thank you for the wonderful post, Laurie! Cher xo

  3. Cheers for a wonderful post again today, Laurie. I probably don’t need to tell you that you mirror your mother’s qualities of truth, goodness, and beauty. Your gutsy-ness must come from her also: “Once she set her cap on something, it was a done deal — an attribute that deeply impressed me.”

    The smallest, BIG person in my life? Grandson Curtis with a huge personality and giant imagination, my word for the 2014. I know I’ll think of others after I click to post this comment. (Keep the good thoughts coming!)

  4. My biggest little person was born two weeks ago –nine weeks before he was “due.” He has heroically fought to grow in a foreign environment and is now past his birth weight. His name is Jack. He is my grand nephew. And though I haven’t met him yet, I know he will become a special child, prayed for and tended as carefully as a bonsai plant. Thank you for helping to see Jack’s root system in a new and beautiful way.

  5. Laurie, what an interesting post. You know I am a great lover of trees, some of my best friends, ect… As a matter of fact, I am now tempted to run down to Scottsdales and find the perfect little Dwarf Japanese Juniper ( yes, they come in dwarf sizes too) to prune into a Bonsai shape for my Gnome garden. As for little, Big people, right now that would be my new Granddaughter, Lilly. Born on New Years Day this year, I look at her tiny self and see all the potential in the World waiting to happen. She is born into a generation that I hope will be free of racial, sexual and religious repression and bigotry. I hope she will grow into a woman who will never deal with the phrase, “No, you can’t, because you are only a woman.” That she’ll be free to make friends with anyone she pleases no matter their ethnicity or Faith. That she’ll shape her life according to her lights, instead of what others think she “ought” to be. So little, yet with a World of wonderful opportunity ahead.

    • Sandi – Every time I see a photograph of Lilly I burst into a smile. She coaxes the sunshine right out 🙂 I love what you said: “Born on New Years Day this year, I look at her tiny self and see all the potential in the World waiting to happen.” Yes, indeed!

  6. My husband is the GREAT person in my life. He’s not small (5′ 11″), but when I feel weak, he’s the one who gives me strength.
    Funny how we were thinking of getting a bonsai and only talked about it a few days ago….

  7. What a beautiful and inspiring post Laurie! I can see that you take after your mother in all the most significant ways, and I am moved by the influence she had on your life. That tree is quite a holding, and under your steed it’s “life expectancy” will no doubt be maximized. Well that biggest-small person label applies to my dear Lucille (who is shortish) but has a heart and personality worth more than anything in the world. Thanks for reminding me this morning what really matters most in the world, and by giving us all that telling metaphor.

  8. Lovely post, Laurie. I’m a great lover of trees myself and people who shine like stars as your mother did. You were very fortunate to have her. There are many Big people in my life, I just wish I knew some of them all personally.

  9. The smallest Big person in my life was my grandson Tobin, who died of a children’s cancer before his third birthday. From infancy, when he looked at you it was as if he was looking into your very soul. I am convinced he was needed elsewhere to help other children.

  10. The littlest big person right now in my life is my 4 year old grandson. He is one of three grandsons, one that is older and two that are younger. So with this reference I don’t believe that it is being a boy that gives this package its large presence. He unknowingly fills a room with his full and dynamic expression. There is no doubt that he embodies whatever he is experiencing without reservation. He will eventually learn to tailor some of this but for now his freedom is contagious.

  11. Instead of one, I meet many…
    I had the privileged of caring for children in a day care for over fourteen years. They taught me so much–including how to open my heart to the magic of each new day.
    I too love trees, Laurie. Thank you for introducing me to Merry. She’s beautiful!

  12. Your words make me happy… Holding your bonsai is “like holding a forest in my hands.” What a beautiful image (yes, I am a tree enthusiast, too).

    Your comments about strong, resilient people reminds me of a breast cancer survivor I interviewed this week. Her strength came right through the phone line and is still inspiring me days later (in the middle of chemo, she finished her nursing degree, passed the boards — and suffered complications of a stroke during all of this. And she said, through it all, “I’m GOING to finish this nursing degree. It’s my dream.” And boy did she accomplish that goal).

  13. I should say the Little Gingers shouldn’t I? But you know, my husband is the one I have to thank for all the big and little things I have in my life. He was a bit shorter (and at the time, wider!) than my previous boyfriends and his student income was extremely meagre when compared to the rich guys I’d tried, and failed, to fall in love with. Thank heavens he had faith that there was “something special going on” with the self-centred and rather shallow girl he snogged at his best friend’s wedding!

  14. I had the best Mother- in -law and Father- in -law ever. They weren’t tiny people but were small on fuss and grandeur . They gave us all their world and didn’t expect anything in return . Their love was unconditional . They had the biggest hearts I’ve ever known.
    Thank you for educating me in the life on the bonsai I had you down as a a murderer … lol
    I think Merry is a very handsome little tree .

    • Cherry – What a heartwarming tribute to your in-laws. They sound like they were amazing people. I especially like what you said about them being “small on fuss and grandeur.” Definitely my kind of people 🙂

  15. Hi Laurie

    Its interesting that you say that bonsai isn’t cruelty in any aspect. I really wonder about that.

    Bonsai is limiting the root growth, and strictly limiting the growth of something that if left in another environment with more nutrients and less trimming would grow into a full sized tree.
    If the analogy is taken to today’s society, it is as if we are bonsai-ing most of the people on the planet, by strictly limiting the information and resources we give them, thus strictly limiting their growth and potential development.

    I know that the person producing the bonsai rarely intends cruelty.
    I realise that trees produce so many seeds that most can never develop, and must die, so one could say that any sort of life is better than no life – which might be true in the bonsai tree example.
    It is also true that bonsai trees require a great deal of care if thy are to retain the illusion of health and vitality, and that their root mass is so small that they can easily die from desiccation if not regularly watered. Bonsai is not a secure existence from the perspective of the bonsai itself.

    So while I see merit in bonsai as a tool to train human awareness, to retain focus and action over long periods, I do find it a very dangerous model to try to apply to humanity at the social level (as our capitalist system seems to be doing).

    I don’t see any merit in keeping people small by restricting their inputs in any sense, however much love one applies to the process. The only real freedom and security for human beings comes from growth of awareness, and such growth requires that all of our physical needs are met. And we are not like trees, that grow indefinitely, we do have limited physical needs, but unlimited needs for information and freedom of action.

    • Ted — Before acquiring Merry, I researched the Art of Bonsai by reading numerous books on the subject. Additionally — specifically because of my concern about cruelty — I went to the Chicago Botanic Gardens for an in-depth conversation and ended up attending a few classes, plus I contacted Kenji Kobayashi (author of “Keshi Bonsai), the Eastern Leaf company, and the National Bonsai Foundation.

      Like you, I agree that all of humanity should be free to grow in their awareness 🙂

  16. Ah yes, bonsai are beautiful. My husband is a bonsai enthusiast, too. The ones at the Huntington Library and Gardens amazed me because they are so much larger than I expected–and yet they are complete miniatures. Thanks, Laurie!

  17. I was house sitting during a college summer break and I killed the home owner’s bonsai tree she had nurtured for 40 years. I let it fall out the third story window, no knowing what it was ( I thought it was plastic) and then neglected to retrieve it, forgotten, for 3 weeks. I brought the dish in and washed it so it was nicely fresh and clean. I could make excuses for my ignorance and chose instead to let it go and to learn a bit about Bonsai. I think it would make me worry to share life with one – seriously

    I think my daughter’s kindergarten teacher might fit the bill, though we are all sure that she is actually a Leprechaun of twinkle and kindness, boundless energy and kindness, and a devotion to children unmatched to anyone else I know. My youngest is petite Asian and she is surely 6 or 7 inches taller now than her Kindergarten teacher! was then.

    Always a delight to come here Thank you

    • Patricia – One of the reasons I did so much research before committing to the Art of Bonsai is because of the time, patience, and effort involved. Further, like a full-sized tree, they can live hundreds of years. Merry could outlive me by a long shot and our son will need to continue nurturing her. You can be sure he and I had a long, involved discussion beforehand. I didn’t want to start something that he didn’t have any desire to finish.

      I’m sorry about your initial experience with a Bonsai. Your daughter’s kindergarten teacher sounds wonderful! 🙂

  18. I did Bonsai for many years…
    and this past weekend I decided I needed to feel the serenty
    it always seems to share with each plant..
    I did a pomegranate, a coffee tree grove, and a Serisa…
    I always want to do Japanese bonsai, but I end up with Chinese
    strict Bonsai masters I know always frowned on the non-comforming ways
    and even more so when I was asked what I thought one needed I would say “a bigger pot”
    you are right about the commitment….I thought long and hard about doing this again…
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts today…
    Take Care…You Matter…

  19. Hi Laurie! Another great post. 🙂

    The answer to your question would have to be my husband.

    I have been blessed. I wasn’t sure it would be in the stars for me. I was almost 40 yrs old.

    And of course, my lovely dog. She teaches me so much about Life and how to live it. I have to learn to pay attention. 🙂

    Have a great week!! Deb

  20. Nice to meet Merry, Laurie – she is very beautiful! Your mother sounds wonderful and it’s true, how we live does impact how we die.

    The smallest BIG person in my life? The first person who popped into my mind is my grandmother. I still remember her teaching me, with a twinkle in her eye, that that the greatest gifts come in the smallest packages. I loved all tiny treasures she gave me over the years.

  21. She’s lovely! And I am inspired by how you tenderly care for her, daily.
    Laurie, there’s so much truth in your post, gently revealed, as is your style, truly shin-zen-bi is a concept you strive for and achieve!

  22. Wow, that bonsai is amazing! I think the smallest big people in my life have been my children (when they were very young, under 1). I was always amazed at their strength and intelligence at such young ages…tiny people with such a huge understanding of the world and so much excitement for what it held. It was a very cool realization!

  23. I have a tree very similar!!! or should I say: Jim does, since our last Bonsai (much smaller, but still a tragic loss) ultimately went to the big Soil in the sky under my overly diligent care.

    the biggest little person: anyone that knows me, and loves me anyway. 🙂

  24. Marty is obsessed with bonsai trees, too! My mom is a person who exudes big personality despite her smaller frame. I like to call her “Big Fish” after the movie of the same name. 🙂

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