Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wabi Sabi

This is what I'm made to do ...
Originally uploaded by playzwifstonz

I have embarked on a journey of wabi sabi -- the Japanese-originated perspective of seeing the beauty of things as imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is looking at things as they are and even as they deteriorate ... rusted, weathered, crude, natural.

I spent the better part of the afternoon yesterday walking around my urban neighborhood taking photos.  Prior to reading about wabi-sabi, I did not perceive that there would be anything picture worthy in this historic throwback, littered with garbage and riddled with decay.
On the contrary, I soon discovered; beauty was abound. In the oddest and unlikeliest of places. This is because the lenses I normally look out of have been re-focused, not to mention that the view has shifted, now zooming in on what is real, what is here, what is in its natural state of "what it is".

Much to my surprise, each new sight of something worn, something deteriorated became increasingly more gorgeous to the eye, a rush coarsing through my veins as I let myself drop deeply into the heartbeat of Life. As I bent down to capture a badly rusted piece of metal, a man walked by and shot me a disapproving look, as if I was picking through garbage. I couldn't stop smiling inside.

The more profound discovery, however, did not come until today. As I reflected on yesterday's experience while I did some light chores around my apartment today, I became aware of the ease and flow of my tasks and how they didn't have the usual urgent, pressured qualities of past cleaning frenzies. What arose in this moment was that my wabi-sabi experience brought me directly in relationship with reality as it is -- no mission or efforting or desire to change anything. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks: my former obsessive straightening and cleaning was my attempt at stopping the progression of Life. Something out of place, something that I deemed to be unkept or not up to par with my standard of aesthetics was to be dealt with, controlled, even eliminated. This disallowance of things being able to be exactly as they are has been the way I have tried to manage relationships and situations for the better part of my life. To try to control the course of something changing was my desperate clinging to the known while avoiding the terror of the unknown. I was halting Life rather than being in the flow of Life.

Who knew that rusty, broken down stuff would open up a whole world of pulsating, life-giving treasures right before my eyes ?

Wabi fuckin sabi.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spinning to Sanity ...

Originally uploaded by in eva vae Gift: 6 my preset lightroom "vintage"

As a young girl, I was obsessed about the unpredictability of weather. This was holographic and could aptly describe the stormy climate that I resided in on a daily basis. In particular, I was both equally fascinated and terrified by tornadoes.

I read about them in the encyclopedia and in other books that explained weather. I studied the patterns of storm clouds as well as the conditions that brought about these twisters. I even knew the exact place in the house where we would most likely be the safest -- southeast corner of the basement, flat on the floor. Perhaps my vigilance about this swirling madness of nature was, in part, an act of overcompensating for what I could not forecast in my own home.

Last night, I had a tornado dream. It was vivid and so so real. I was in a familiar neighborhood that is about 10 minutes from where I live. I could see the cobblestone street with the trolley tracks and its surrounding shops. As I walked up this very street, I noticed that the sky was the perfect "pre-tornado" ominous black just like the pictures I saw in books as a child. In my dream, I had an awareness of danger looming and yet I was not frightened. I knew what to do. I continued to walk slowly, keeping one eye on the sky and one toward any house or shop that appeared to have an accessible basement. Suddenly, I saw the formation of the tell-tale funnel. It was long and cylindrical and powerful. I saw it touch down. It was moving too quickly for me to get to shelter. I saw a large pothole in the street -- big enough to occupy my body if I made myself compact. The funnel was barreling full-force toward me. I crammed myself into the pothole and tucked my head down. I could feel the intensity of the wind slamming against my back. The sound of an oversized train whistle that is often described on TV by stormchasers was deafening. I braced myself and asked God to watch over me. The howling, twisting spiral gusted right over me tearing off roofs and pieces of the cobblestone street. And then, a huge silent hush blanketed the space where it just blew through. I was untouched.

I texted my beloved with this simple message: "I just survived a tornado".

I got up and I could hear people moaning. Simultaneously, another twister touched down with greater force than the first. I ran into a 3 story home that was blown open and I went directly into the basement. As I dropped face down on the cold cement floor, I looked at the man next to me. It was my father. He held out his hand and I took his in mine. And we rode out the next tornado, everything above us decapitated like a person's head removed from their body on an archaic chopping block.

After the dust settled, I looked into my father's eyes. No words were exchanged. Just a knowing. The dream ended here.

I believe that this was a dream about validating my sanity amid the spinning turmoil and chaos of growing up in an alcoholic home. That all those years of hypervigilance about weather and feeling crazy were all the ways I was trying to survive the tornado of my family -- specifically, my father. His guest appearance in my dream and the look exchanged as we lay on the floor of that basement had the quality of an amends and an offering of forgiveness.   His presence next to me symbolizing a father who shows up to be a parent to his daughter.  To let his little girl know that she was not alone in this storm that wreaked havoc in our home.   Something that I never experienced during the time he was alive.    I woke up feeling immense peace.

I truly did survive a tornado. One that lasted nearly 3 decades. I breathe a huge sigh of relief in the calm air of my own space. The journey of spinning has brought me to a sanity that I have never known before. It is one that allows me to claim my craziness and to know, deep within my interior, when it is the outside that is insane and not me.