Tuesday, May 05, 2015

What do non-bonsai people think about bonsai hobbyists?

 One of the members of the FB group Bonsai Hobbyist of the Philippines (BHP) asked this question and I ,again, collated the members' answers and added some comments of my own. 

1. They are crazy

This is the most common thinking of non-bonsai people because most bonsai hobbyist/artists/owner have this special relationship with their trees that to common folks seems to defy sanity. The bonsaists spend a lot of time looking at it from many angles, clipping branches and removing leaves here and there, and sometimes even talking with the trees.

But I think the craziest thing is that many if not most bonsai hobbyist go out at night, with their flash lights, to check on their materials/trees. 

Imagine yourself looking out your window, there's your neighbor in the middle of the night with a flashlight beaming on his/her bonsai, eyes and nose almost touching the trunks and branches, checking under and over, as if looking for something valuable, a jewelry or an evidence of a murder, etc. I mean...

2. They are in love with their trees

The husband must keep in mind the first commandment: "Thous shall not have no other wife than the wife." 

Anything that takes away a husband's attention from his wife is an object of jealousy. I mean anything. This is understandable and normal to a married person. Jealousy is a basic instinct both for the male and female of the specie. This instinct or emotion is a product of evolutionary processes that aims to preserve the unity of a family and the continuity of the species. Ok, ok, enough of the Darwinian blah,blah, blah

Many members of the BHP, at least in the beginning of their bonsai life, had to deal with a jealous wife. The wife could not understand how her husband could focus his energy on watering trees 2-3 times everyday. I mean before they even greet their wives or enter the door of the house, they first get their water hose or lagaderas to water their trees. Then they spend a lot of hours grooming the trees, clipping branches and leaves  which the husbands do not do to their wives. 

I do not clip my wife's nails or groom her hair and I doubt it if any husband does that, but it is understandable for the wife to feel resentment at seeing her husband clipping a damned tree and not her nails and grooming the tree and not her hair. Of course most wives prefer have manicurists and pedicurists but still the mis-focused attention is what makes them jealous. They do the housework, cook food, do laundry, they deserve better...better than the bonsai's.

Of course after a period of time, the wife realizes the benefits of bonsai to her husband. 

1. The husband started losing interest with vices and going out with boys.
2. Great stress management.
3. Once the bonsai revealed its beauty, the wife starts to appreciate them too.
4. Some husbands have additional source of income.
5. The wife then becomes a bonsai hobbyists. too. I hope.

3. They are gay

I have no problem with this but to some BHP member, they think this is defamatory or something. If your sure of your sexuality no problemo. 

4. They are torturing the trees!

This is also how my friends describe what I'm doing with my bonsai, cutting them here and there, wiring and then bending the branches, defoliating the leaves, sometimes removing bark, etc. By the way this called training.

Since trees are living organisms its is only reasonable to think that they feel or at least they react to these training methods in a way that many people could empathize with. There are times that I feel that way too. But one must look at this philosophically. 

Training is a difficult and even a torturous process. It is the process of removing, redirecting, learning, retaining and maintaining. It is refining, managing the crude, the base and the wild nature and then turning them into something beautiful and usable. It is a process of change.

Training a tree is similar to educating a human being.  It's unthinkable to cut fingers here and there or amputate a deformed arm or a leg  because we don't grow them back. Though physical beautification or enhancement is being done through cosmetic surgery it does not capture the real essence of bonsai training.

So, like bonsai training our crude or wild natures/behaviors are pruned and defoliated through the painful process of behavioral modification called education and religion. 

Bonsai is metaphorical, if you really think about it.

5. They have nothing better to do

I guess that's why its called a hobby. Anyway, seriously, I had a visitor who told me that he'd rather plant vegetables than bonsais. I understand the bit of sarcasm in his voice because I can't eat my bonsai. But I love gardening and I did try planting vegetables in our lot but the soil--mostly compacted fillings-- is not fit for that kind of gardening. 

I guess no one can understand a bonsai hobbyist unless he or she becomes one.

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