Lesson One: Watermelon

The Art of Watermelon
A neighbor gave us a watermelon after Barry put out a small fire for him. I should have photographed it. But I saw it and that memory is preserved. The watermelon existed for a moment the way we all do, I suppose. Art and beauty once created, are like truth. They can never be undone. And I think maybe like we and the watermelon are like art, beauty, and truth.
Anyway, I cut it up to put it in Tupperware (well Gladdware or whatever it’s called) and Winnie came begging. That dog will eat anything! Of course, Cupcake had to try it too but she immediately spit her piece on the floor. Don’t worry – nothing was wasted. Winnie swooped right in. I guess not everybody appreciates watermelon the same way.
I marveled at the smell and texture of the melon – the way the hard, thick rind housed such a delicate fruit that literally melts under pressure. Again I thought about how much I have in common with that melon.
I chopped the rind into small pieces. Before I sat down to enjoy my treat, I wanted to give the cows their treat. Pretty cow met me at the gate. She recognizes the grey bucket. She’s getting so old. She’s 23 now and actually calved last year. She has no teeth but she can gum up some watermelon rind. All the other girls came too, but Pretty Cow is Alpha Cow and gets the best of the best.
I have to brag – she’s so intelligent. A piece was on the ground and I pointed to it. Area 51 Cow and #68 both tried to bite my pointing finger but Pretty Cow actually looked at the place to which I pointed.
I came home, washed cow slobber off my hands and arms and sat down with my melon. I decided this was a chance to really practice mindfulness. I would sit in silence and savor my food. I don’t think I ever really tasted watermelon – not TRULY tasted. I tend to scarf food. Maybe it’s some primordial instinct – eat it all before the others come. But I settled into the safety of my couch and slowly savored each bit. I smelled it. I looked at it. I ate it. My hunger and thirst were both satiated, but something even deeper felt satisfied…I felt alive and safe. I felt unhurried. I didn’t have to think about anything but the melon. I think I felt “mindfulness.” So this was Lesson One. A simple lesson but it’s a good start for the journey.
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Pretty about 13 years ago…

 

Wabi-Sabi

Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.    ~Marilyn  Monroe

Last week in yoga, preparing for the one pose I can do perfectly, Savasana (Corpse Pose), I leaned back on my mat and looked up.  I was intrigued. The ceiling in the old building is beautiful – antique tin tiles, paint peeling – imperfectly beautiful.  It reminded me of a phrase I’d heard a few times:  Wabi-Sabi (not wasabi which is also something I do well…or at least eat well). I realize I could get into the entire concept a lot more deeply but I’m just going to dance on the surface of Wabi-Sabi in this blog.

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       Wabi-sabi

 Wabi-sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically impermanence, the other two being suffering and emptiness or absence of self-nature. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. (FROM FREEBASE.COM)

A smile is ALWAYS beautiful.

A smile is ALWAYS beautiful.

I love getting out with my fancy camera and taking photos of critters and nature. People often ask me to take their photo but I nearly always decline. Most folks, me included,  will inevitably be unhappy with photos of themselves. We pick out each flaw and focus on it. Animals don’t care.

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OH NO! You can see my pores.

Is it my vanity that has convinced me I look like a super-model but the camera can’t quite pick it up?  Why can’t I love my deep smile lines and uneven eyes? Asymmetry is one of the characteristics listed in the Wabi-Sabi definition.  Looking around in nature, there is nothing but “imperfection.” Flowers missing petals, trees with broken limbs, irregular shaped clouds…but it’s all still perfect. We are so captivated by the beauty of a sunrise that we don’t notice the landscape isn’t following the 3/4 rule.

One of the things I love about our yoga class is that it’s ok to need  a block or a strap and bend my knees during forward bends.  Oddly enough, being unable to do things “textbook” perfectly  isn’t even deemed as imperfection or as a weakness. We’re told to honor ourselves – accept ourselves and our own limitations. According to our teacher, nearly all yoga teachers have poses that are difficult for them.

And with this new appreciation of Wabi-Sabi comes forgiveness.  When I accept my own “imperfection”, I’m more likely to accept the imperfection of others. My screw-ups are beautiful because they are a part of my charm. And maybe your screw-ups are part of yours.

But this morning on Facebook a friend posted something that really struck me….and I’ll end with this thought:  Maybe everything IS perfect.