By Steven Vilkas
The Japanese have the word komorebi, which roughly translates to the sunlight filtering through the trees. The beauty of this sight was all around us at the last “Tea and Tranquility” event put on by the founders, friends, and supporters of the Armenian Heritage Park in Boston.
It was a warm, pleasant, and peaceful Wednesday afternoon, with the weather complemented by the equally warm, pleasant, and peaceful personalities of those who had decided to attend… as well as those curious characters who were interested in what we were doing. Perhaps they observed a kind of komorebi within us being projected through our smiles, our conversations, and the fellowship we shared around the now-famous sculpture of the split dodecahedron, which crowns the park as a profoundly poignant and poetic symbol.
While enjoying our surroundings as well as the socialization, the crowd was building, and in spite of this I felt as though I were still in some faraway sanctuary that, curiously, happens to be in the heart of a bustling city. There are so very many things about the Armenian Heritage Park that set it apart from other public spaces in urban environments. The ethos it was founded upon are ever-present… as ubiquitous as the soothing bubbling of the fountain at the center of its beloved labyrinth… or of the flowers, in their variegated splendor, which also happen to remind me (metaphorically) of the founders and friends who have done so much from building, to beautifying, to tirelessly promoting the value of this labor of love.
One could, in the precious silence of the early morning, find a means for meditation by walking the aforementioned labyrinth… or at dusk, perhaps, to observe the travelers from dozens if not hundreds of nations conversing with locals on the comfortable black benches. You will be able to appreciate the stunning Boston skyline… its familiar fusion of old, historical structures with new, innovative edifices, while listening to the festive music and entertainment of nearby Faneuil Hall. You’ll smile as you gaze at the charming North End homes, undoubtedly enjoying the aroma of many delicious dishes while you observe that Boston Harbor is a stone’s throw away from where you’re located.
At one point I had the privilege of listening to Donald (Don) Tellalian speak to the crowds about a number of different subjects. This man, animated with the passion and enthusiasm of an advocate for the public welfare most sincere, told the story of how the park came to be but also of what it represents from a number of different perspectives. He used a miniature dodecahedron to demonstrate its geometric properties, not merely from a scientific perspective: He cleverly used the nature of this fascinating shape to reconcile matters of ethics, immigration/assimilation, the “coming together and pulling apart” of the human condition.
The presentation spoke to us in a way which, even now as I sit here in reflection… appears as a brilliant proof of how mathematics can speak a beautiful, universal language and unite our distant human families under one roof of common, equitable principles.
The dodecahedron sculpture speaks to the architect and the philosopher—to the life-long resident as well as the new arrival. To the Bostonian as well as the tourist, without the slightest indifference or discrimination. We are all, indubitably, bound to experience both impermanence and a metamorphosis in our own experience.
The end this beautiful talk produced an empowering chorus of applause, which was followed up with a poem composed by Peter Chan. He was as selfless, interesting, and engaging a fellow as you please, as well as quite talented with photography. We then walked the labyrinth at the encouragement of Andrea Burns. This was something to behold, to take pride in… each of us walking mindfully—a fascinating contradiction of independence and interdependence. While we were each on our own while walking, thinking, and feeling singularly, we were physically no more than a few steps from each other… drawing forth from the comforts of solidarity while certainly enjoying the “disconnect” from our modern state of constantly being “online.”
Between discussions, conversations, and walking sessions, everyone had a chance to enjoy iced tea and pastries, which were both refreshing and delicious. One couldn’t have asked for a better time. Body, mind, and spirit were each well treated. Consider this a token of our gratitude as well as a declaration of our unwavering support.
Steven Vilkas is co founder of S&S Consulting, a Boston-based firm dedicated to leadership development, and a North End resident.