Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wabi Sabi

Recently I derived deep satisfaction from Wabi Sabi Simple, a gem of a book that my friend, Richard Powell, wrote. Wabi sabi is an ancient Japanese concept that has some features in common with the Voluntary Simplicity and Slow Food movements in the West. In the Introduction, Richard states, "[Wabi sabi] nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect."

Back in August I had what I now recognize as a wabi sabi day. My friend, Eileen, introduced me to Newcastle Island, a five- or ten-minute ferry ride from Nanaimo.

When we disembarked from the ferry, I initially felt slightly disappointed. I had hoped to get some good photos looking back towards Nanaimo. However, it was an overcast day, and the couple of pictures I took looked nothing like as pretty as they would have done if the sun had been shining.

Still, although I had not yet read Wabi Sabi Simple, I intuitively knew that the sky was doing me a favour. I returned my camera to my backpack and decided to focus my attention on Eileen's and my conversation and on the things we saw as we walked the perimeter of the island. What an enchanting day that turned out to be.

I have realized that a cohousing community is a wabi sabi creation too. To use the analogy of food, creating a cohousing community is like baking bread according to the super slow recipe in Richard's book. The experience is rich and textured and nurturing in a way that the drive through window of a fast food outlet can never match.

One of life's traps is that I can become overcomitted to worthy activities. My trip to Africa in June and July gave me distance from Nanaimo and therefore increased objectivity. I realized that, in my enthusiasm to embrace the smorgasbord of experiences available in Nanaimo, I had taken on too much. The causes, organizations, courses and cultural opportunities all were great. It's just that there were too many of them. I resolved to divest myself of some of them when I returned. The Excellence series of seminars has been helping me to discern which elements of my life resonate most deeply with who I am and that I therefore want to continue. At this point, cohousing is a high priority for me.

Richard's book itself is a keeper. When I donate several of my favourite books to Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community's library, Wabi Sabi Simple will be one of the special treasures that will stay behind on my own bookshelf.

1 comment:

Richard Powell said...

Thanks Judy. I can tell you really "get it." Wonderful example from your day on Newcastle. May you have many more wabi sabi days and moments!