Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wabi-sabi October

What gives? Three days of grim low overcast, prickly mist, and out-and-out, bus window-befogging, umbrella-hating rain.

Some months we step into with a picture of what it should be like, and October is definitely one of those. We expect calendar page fall foliage, blue sky, sun and shadow making the pumpkins oranger and the chrysanthemums more anthem and less "um...." So whose idea was this? Some colorblind crow's?

Of course, it's all going to change tonight. The rain moves out to sea, as it always does. Tomorrow the October queen will be back on the hay wagon, tossing candy corn to the crowd. And we will have missed another chance at understanding wabi-sabi.

There are plenty of explanations out there. Here's a compelling one from the website

Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent.

Okay, I'm not sure if a weathered, grizzled day in October qualifies as an opportunity to study and admire the imperfect—in the same way a wabi-sabi aesthete would admire a misshapen teacup or a rusted wheelbarrow.

Nor am I sure if I, the constant editor, plucking and pruning these words within an inch of their life, am qualified to extol wabi-sabi, just because I like the way it sounds and because I tend to befriend the worn-out, well-used thing, the stubbornly untamed vacant lot, the 1943 comic book, my piles of old, unreadable notebooks.

All I know is that there must be something worth finding in a bummer of an October day, not cold enough to be thoroughly miserable like an equivalent day in November would be. Even if it's just a reminder that there must be something worth finding in a bummer of an October day...etc. Even if it's just a gray, wet-bark, wabi-sabi daydream.

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