Weekly Photo Challenge: UNIQUE

Many emotions mingle in this photo —

Delight at having captured the essence of something I loved, nostalgia for a place I love and probably will never visit again, sorrow because this unique “bonsai” tree (which was actually lifesize, that is, about 5 1/2 feet high) was toppled in a typhoon two years after I saw and photographed it.

A bonsai of yester year

Delight is what I feel for all aspects of Japanese aesthetics, and for a while I was living here with a real Japanese garden in Shimane Prefecture, Western Japan, not a museum showpiece but a family’s actual garden. Nostalgia (natsukashii) is what I feel for Japan whenever I think of the nine weeks I was lucky enough to spend there (in two trips).

As for the sorrow, however — I can’t regret that. One central tenet of Japanese aesthetics is the characteristic of aware, being ephemeral. Cherry blossoms, for instance, are so cherished because they are delicate and vanish so swiftly, in the breath of a wind. It is precisely because things perish, vanish, disappear that they are so precious. (How much more is that true of human beings, each one unique and irreplaceable?) This pine tree still lives on my living room wall, however. And it still lives where things perhaps always have their strongest life — in memory.

This entry was posted in Art, Gardens, Japan, Memories, Nature, Personal Essay, Wisdom, Zen and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Weekly Photo Challenge: UNIQUE

  1. How many greens in your photo? Beautiful.

  2. rebekah says:

    Beautiful picture … and unique, but perhaps even more so; your words. Loved the last sentence..

  3. Angelia Sims says:

    I hope to go someday. It looks like a magical forest. Beautiful.

  4. It would have been wonderful to see something so beautiful. Even if only for a whisper of a moment. Lovely post, Judith.

  5. pauline says:

    Our memories are as unique as the things we wish to remember. That photo will help you recall the attendant emotions that surrounded your time in Japan – it sounds as though that’s a good thing. Everything has its turn at life, no matter how fleeting. If we give it our attention we can indeed fix it in our hearts forever. Another thoughtful, beautiful post, J.

  6. There is beauty in your words, and some sadness, too. I hope you are well…

    • Touch2Touch says:

      The sadness is an inextricable part of the experience. That’s why I love the Japanese aesthetic so much. Aware, Ah-wah-reh, is beautiful and sad all in one, beautiful because it is sad as well as joyful because it is beautiful. A complex experience —
      Yes, I’m okay, and thanks for your warm regard. THERE’S a real warmth in all kinds of weather!

  7. Stef says:

    Indeed, the notion of impermanence is central to much Eastern philosophy/culture. Remembering that life is a constant state of flux and change can make it frustrating, or sacred – the choice in how to respond is ours.

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