Digging A Hole Big Enough to Sit In, by Twylah Nitsch

“I must have been under five when I spent one whole summer day digging a hole with a large spoon in the side of a bank near our house. I had to dig and dig because the ground was so full of roots and my goal was to make a hole big enough to sit in – like a cave. And that took a lot of hard work. Digging through all those roots was tough.

What I remember most about the experience is something my grandmother said. “When you take the dirt out, make sure you have a place for it,” she cautioned me, “because the dirt is used to being in that particular place, and it is at home there. Don’t take anything that is part of something and just scatter it around. Remember you are disturbing the home of the worms and the insects. You are moving them out of the place where they have been living, and you need to make sure that they are happy about where you are taking them.” So I would scoop the dirt into a little basket I had and take it around to various spots. “Is this where you would like to be?” I’d ask. And if the answer was yes, I would leave it. Otherwise, I’d pick up my basket, go to another spot, and ask again.

When I had finally made the hold deep enough to sit in, I would crawl in there and listen. I could hear the earth talking.”

 https://www.facebook.com/notes/twylah-nitsch/digging-a-hole-big-enough-to-sit-in/155871381125953)

twylah

(from her Facebook page)

The most simple mundane things we do have impact somewhere on someone or something. For child Twylah, it was every child’s favorite pastime: digging a hole. And it impacted the worms and bugs. I work with pre-schoolers and we have holes all over our playground. And they sit in them. The holes are like those Mamasan chairs that cradle the body in a quasi fetal position.

When the children find worms we remind them they have to put them back into the earth: they cannot become a pet or they will die.

When I was a child I “lived” in the woods in back of my house. I played for hours there…listening, watching, tasting, feeling, smelling. I could hear the earth talking. I heard her sing and laugh!

Now, all grown up, I can’t seem to hear earth speak so clearly any more. But I still see, feel, taste, and smell. And it’s different than it was over 50 years ago. There is a lot of noise…some is in my head, and some is in the world, but it is not Earth talking, or singing anymore. Why?

I feel, sometimes, displaced, like the dirt Twylah’s mother mentions……moved out of where it’s used to being.

How do you listen to earth? What do you hear? Where do you “belong”, and feel that you belong?

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Flawed Beauty: Wabi Sabi

August 11, 2012

Flawed beauty.

I knew a woman who was a weaver. She created stunning works of fiber art on her loom. And yet, not one piece was “perfect”. Each and every one had a repaired thread, a knot where a string had broken, a spot where the dye didn’t take in the yarn, a misread of the pattern: something. She never stopped to fix the errors. This artist commented that some of her contemporary weavers would tell her with much seriousness that she should “fix those mistakes to make the piece perfect instead of flawed.” She would shrug her shoulders and just say “I don’t worry much about perfection…..I think these pieces are richer because they remind us that none of us are perfect.”

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Most of us don’t like those words or their meanings.

“Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.” ( from Wikipedia)

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. (Wikipedia) Those are interesting concepts for our American society and way of thinking.

“Wabi-sabi is exactly about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get from freedom from things.” Leonard Koren

You have some wabi-sabi somewhere in your life. Where is it? What is it? Do you accept it or are you embarrassed by it?

I believe we could all benefit from embracing the idea of wabi-sabi in our lives and let go of the illusion of perfection.

Familiar with The Society Of Friends? The Quakers? They have in their history a beautiful “dance” song called Simple Gifts. You may know it from Copeland’s Appalachian Spring, or from Obama’s inauguration when YoYo Ma and others played Aire and Simple Gifts. The music is breath-taking. The words speak of ideals few us might ever even consider: “to bow and to bend”, “tis a gift to be simple”, “to come down where we ought to be”. Words of humility.

How do these words have the power to influence our potentiality? The words remind us of what is important, no matter the time we live in, our social status or anything else. If we remember we are a part of something bigger, or that there is something bigger than us as an individual, we can be at ease with humility (to bow) , to turn and be able to compromise, to be grateful, to bend and seek simplicity rather than complexity. We can be free from self-importance, wanting, desiring, wishing for…..and find satisfaction with the moment.  We can “come down to where we’re meant to be”, and realize that for most of us, especially if you are reading this, our lives are OK.  “And when you find yourself in a place just right, you will be in the valley of love and delight”: when you look around and start saying “thank-you”, “I am thankful for ….”, “I love you”, “I forgive you”, “I am sorry”, you will be in a place of gratitude. “When true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend, we will not be ashamed”: Tagore said,

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.”

We don’t always have to be strong, right, domineering, forceful, insistent, in control….

“To turn and to turn will be our delight till by turning and turning we come round right”. Dance. In gratitude, in peace and with peace, with others, by yourself. Dance because you are a part of Something that will work with you to discover your potential. Turn to face the light, the possibilities…when True Simplicity is gained life can change.