“I know that one reason I’m magnetically drawn to still-life paintings is that they’re an antidote to my usual state of perpetual motion: sitting still is difficult, standing still virtually impossible, unless it is in front of a painting.”
These words of Sarah Breathnach describe it so well, that need to compulsively and continually attend to things and produce. No wonder I connect so well with still life photography.
She continues… “So what’s our problem? Well for one thing we hover over the surface of our days, we don’t actually dwell in them. Preoccupied with fulfilling the needs of someone or something else, whether it’s the children, husband, house, boss or a telephone call that just won’t wait, we float along unfocused.”
How true. So how do we solve “the problem?” We appreciate the importance of caring for those we love, it is also a pleasure. So the answer cannot be in becoming egocentric, caring only for our own needs, being in our own moments, fulfilling our own desires. Although those things are important, it is certainly more complex than that.
I believe it has much to do with concentration. We have become, for lack of a better description, attention deficit. Most of us we not born that way. We are a product of our environment. The one that is constantly displaying flashing images, one after the other, attention grabbing ploys and soul sucking advertisements. It’s no wonder our brains can’t focus. We can’t get away from it. Or can we?
In my continuing study of the book Wabi Sabi for Writers, I came across this description of the Japanese words in the title.
“Sabi was refined over the years to emphasize a state of receptivity, fostered in remote natural settings. This positive aloneness was joined to the wabi appreciation of the understated and unrefined to form a phrase with deep resonance for the contemplative mind. People would dream of living in simple enlightened appreciation of nature.”
Just reading those words calms me. Makes me pause and reflect. I set out to ‘accomplish’ this contemplative state of mind. Sitting by the wildest part of the garden, the one that is let to roam without further human intervention, the wild woods just beyond; I listened. I allowed my senses to absorb this environment to the point where I no longer was in the moment but somewhat outside it. Or perhaps it is better described as a part of it. I was in the wind, in the rustling of the trees, in the swaying of the grasses. I joined the conversation of the crows, one complaining, the other answering back. Then the words came…
echoes across the meadow
continue the conversation
couldn’t we all just agree?
let’s discuss the matter
hear each others point of view
you tell it your way and
I’ll tell it mine
we will meet in the meadow
and it will be sublime
How easily the words slipped from my mind to the page. Every cell of my being absorbed this environment. Undistracted. Now… to find a way to make it a practice…
And so I close with additional words from Richard Powell, a reminder, a mindset, a ‘way of elegance.’
“Wabi habit brings to the academic world a different sort of classroom; it brings the bumping childhood contact with the world, like Winnie the Pooh bumping down the stairs behind Christopher Robin. It bring stages and sages and burnt eyelashes from inspecting the fire for toasted marshmallows. Like an overstuffed station wagon returning from the lake, wabi sabi rattles along noticeable and memorable roads and lays dust against ancient trees. Remember it, notice it, write about it. Nature is everything.”
Definition – Way of elegance: From two Japanese words: michi (way or path) and fugue (the elegance of poetry). The elegance referred to in this phrase involves a combination of courtly grace and rural charm.