Silvery outlines, kissed by the moon, and their eerily alluring reflections fade into a scene of resplendent beauty and quiescence at sunrise as the world comes to life; a happy little courtyard, a pond, and a winding series of brightly colored yet discrete buildings fade from view. My home will be a garden; my garden, a home for family, friends, and strangers in need.
I first fell in love with the idea while visiting the Chinese Garden of Friendship, built in 1988 for Australia’s bicentennial in Sydney’s Darling Harbor. Here, existence found its representation through architecture, landscape, and natural aura. Paths ran from one building to the next in a perfectly fluid motion - unpredictable yet wholly satisfying. Strong gray stone, warm dark wood, and textured plaster walls came together with masterfully placed water courses, symbolic sculpture, and plants to evoke a reverence for life. As a lover of architecture and nature, I was enthralled by these spaces.
I remember walking into a courtyard surrounded by nine foot walls of plaster and slate tiles on three sides, while a tantalizing stream and laughing waterfall emphasized the taste of rain that pervaded each breath of air. Beautiful bamboos, willows, lotus, and carefully placed craggy stones known as Taihu guided the eye and mind toward a bench and a building with an open door beyond. Across the pond, through a moon gate flanked by carved dragons I could see a multi-storied Chinese teahouse on a limestone hill. Blue tiles of a pagoda resembling a ship sparkled under the sunlight as the fish began sampling the morning mist in anticipation of the rain, creating minute ripples. With a far-off rumble, an autumn rain pitter-pattered, then increased. My family and I ran for shelter in the Scholar’s Study. There, stillness enveloped me. Calmness with a pulsating undercurrent of excitement, security with a certain enigmatic flavor, nature as one with the created are what I encountered within that hectare of garden.
There were definitely similarities between this garden in Sydney and me. Both of us are so full of life, so overflowing with vibrancy and the urge to explore. We are both entranced by the suppleness of nature. I can see myself one day sitting on a bridge watching the fish, or living with friends and family enjoying a microcosm of earth’s wonders. I want to share my dream with the world by becoming an architect; I want to introduce humanity to an Eden of hope for a tangible nirvana.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.