On the second day of our trip to Hawaii this February, I came across a pair of Tree of Life earrings in a little shop on Maui. It was love at first sight.
They have a simple design, silver backed with something opalescent. There is a subtle magic in the way their roots are fused with the earth, their branches fused with the sky. They are life, its strength, its ability to persevere, to withstand the wind and the rain and still stand strong. They are a perfect yogic Mountain Pose, spine long, shoulders back and down, toes spread, chest and collar bones open, receptive, resilient, strong.
All of that for thirty dollars plus tax.
Armed with the confidence that comes with magical possessions, we bought a house on the Big Island and turned our lives upside down.
Back in Tokyo, we started on that slow and painful process. We have counted down from more than six months to less than three weeks. Along the journey of sifting through the detritus of 32 years in Tokyo, I realized we only have two pieces of furniture that we care about; the beautiful cherry wood sideboard, a birthday gift to Rochi many years ago, and the glass doll case I found abandoned in the rain. The cost of shipping those things was astronomical but I looked inside my heart and knew that while they are only bits of glass and wood, they are irreplaceable and therefore beyond value. The decision made itself.
I also rediscovered the vintage Tiffany’s gold and sapphire jewelry I’d inherited from my grandmother. I am told it is quite valuable. To me, it only looks a little like the Cookie Monster.
I loved my grandma, miss her always. I love imagining her wearing these lovelies. When I look at them I can smell her special smell, feel her big, soft arms around me, see her red lipsticked smile as she cooed sweet noises at me, made me feel special, made me feel loved.
I wear the Tree of Life earrings nearly every day and still draw strength and confidence from them. At the same time, I cannot imagine myself ever wearing grandma’s jewels. I doubt I will ever have the type of style they demand. But I will never sell them either. In both the same and different ways, they are as irreplaceable as the sideboard and doll case.
And therein lies the fundamental contradiction of life. While everything is different, it is also the same. I’m starting to believe that knowing that, living that, is the key to happiness.