I traveled by plane to Chicago recently on my way to a family reunion in Michigan. The city’s skyline boasts the famous Willis Tower (long known as the Sears Tower) and the John Hancock Center which houses the fastest elevator in the Western Hemisphere. Impressive.
Yet even more striking than the skyscrapers and the stories behind them is the vast grid of city streets from which they rise. Square after square after square. Block after block. A pattern of hard edged metal and concrete “landscapes” enclosed by predictable, repeatable boundaries, offering a little flourish (such as a speedy elevator) here and there. A symbol of our rational mindset and creative prowess over the last century. A testament to our human power to say “yes, we can build this” and to make it happen.
In contrast to our many “squared” human constructions, Nature’s creations flow with curves, pleasing symmetry and complementary shapes. These configurations soften the eyes, stir playfulness, and open the heart, while sparking awe and igniting wholeness in the imagination . . . feelings and qualities that say “yes, we can build something that heals and inspires.”
Some spiritual texts denote the square as a symbol for the personality, that part of us which navigates life’s literal and metaphoric streets and gets things done. On the one hand a perfect fit for our modern outwardly demanding, efficiency driven society. On the other hand, a creative potentiality of mind, passion, vitality, and physical action that can serve the spiraling inspirations of the Heart A potentiality waiting to be claimed.
I find that communing with Nature and observing Her Creative Ways (even in a small urban garden of which there are many in Chicago’s neighborhoods) serves as an essential counterweight to the omnipresent pull into cut and dried efficiency and established routines. It balances the valuable assets of the square with the curves of the heart, yielding the best of both: real-world savvy and embracing quality; effective action and healing, meaningful inspiration.