For the last several years, I’ve found myself attracted to the dead leaves I see on the ground as I walk, particularly those in late fall and winter. I’ve taken thousands of pictures of them. A friend’s mentioning to me the concept of wabi-sabi helped me understand why.
For the last several years, I’ve found myself attracted to the dead leaves I see on the ground as I walk, particularly those in late fall and winter. I’ve taken thousands of pictures of them. A friend’s mentioning to me the concept of wabi-sabi helped me understand why. Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese term for finding the beauty in imperfection, and accepting the cycle of birth, growth, aging, death, and decay.
I’m 66. It’s about time.
The Buddhist teacher and writer Thich Nhat Hanh talks about this cycle when he speaks of seeing the garbage in the flowers and the flowers in the garbage. “When we look at garbage,” he writes, “we also see the non-garbage elements: we see the flower there. Good organic gardeners see that. When they look at a garbage heap they see cucumbers and lettuce. That is why they do not throw garbage away. They keep garbage in order to transform it back into cucumbers and lettuce.”
“If a flower can become garbage,” Thich Nhat Hanh explains, “then garbage can become flowers. The flower does not consider garbage as an enemy or panic when becoming garbage, nor does the garbage become depressed and view the flower as an enemy. They realize the nature of interbeing. In Buddhist therapy we preserve the garbage within ourselves. We do not want to throw it out because if we do, we have nothing left with which to make our flowers grow.”
The challenge is seeing the beauty in the decay, and then, to the extent this is possible, bringing it into the light.
Paths to Wholeness: Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas
52 (more) Flower Mandalas: An Adult Coloring Book for Inspiration and Stress Relief
52 Flower Mandalas: An Adult Coloring Book for Inspiration and Stress Relief
Paths to Wholeness: Selections (free eBook)
… and coming soon, The Art of Balance: Staying Sane in an Insane World
Copyright 2017, David J. Bookbinder
8 thoughts on “
Garbage and Flowers”
Thank you, Li. Always nice to get a comment on art from such a fine artist!
A wonderful set of photos and reflections, David. I love fall leaves, but this enhances my appreciation of them.
What a beautiful way to look at decay, which is surely a necessary part of the life cycle. Your photographs and the accompanying essay illustrate this reality by making the drying and ‘dying’ leaves a natural part of their seasonal life. As a nonagenarian, it is an idea that has great appeal.
Yes, even at 66 it seems important to see the beauty in aging.
Just shared your piece on my fb page, hoping that some others will take a moment to look at your beautiful photographs that so truly express your understanding.
Thanks, Barrie. These images seem right for me at this age and I hope others can relate to them, too.