This rose photo is one of my favorites. I shot it in September 2013 when I was testing a new camera setting. I can almost smell the roses in the air.
I discovered why this photo is so appealing to me when training to give docent tours at the Frist Center for Visual Arts of the current exhibition, Looking East: Western Artists and the Allure of Japan.
Western artists were enamored with “everything Japanese” after trade treaties were signed in 1854 and the mysterious romance of Japan flowed to the rest of the world.
Japanese art was shaped by Wabi-sabi, a Japanese worldview that is centered on the transience and imperfection of life. In Wabi-sabi, things that are beginning to bud or in decay, are better than things which are in perfect bloom. In Wabi-sabi, we have an altered state of consciousness which gives us the ability to see the beauty in the mundane and simple.
It isn’t the perfect bloom in the foreground of the photo that I found so attractive, but the bloom deep into the photo. With only a few petals left, it is in the final stages of its life, but mysteriously, the light seems to be shining brighter on the bloom in decay. It is as if the decayed bloom is being illuminated to show the younger blossoms not only what they will become, but that they will still be beautiful, shining brilliantly until their very last day.
As I read about Wabi-sabi, this sentence stuck out: “The signatures of nature can be so subtle that it takes a quiet mind and a cultivated eye to discern them.”
I want a quiet mind and cultivated eye that can see the transience and imperfection of life as beautiful, taking delight in the mundane and simple.
Blessings, my friend,
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