Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Beauty of Impermanence

Rock Garden
Inspired by the Portland Japanese Gardens that I visit often, I decided to put in a small Japanese style vignette in my yard. I found the stone bowl at a garden show and bought river rocks from a local place. I dug up the turf, placed landscape paper on the ground, and then moved in tons of rock, one wheelbarrow at a time. Of course, my obliging partner helped, who, like me, is inspired by all things Japanese  (okay most things Japanese). We both love the Japanese aesthetic - the attention to detail, the obsession to seek perfection in form, in any form, and the honed ability to transform the mundane into the sacred.

I digress. It took two of us two days to construct this rock garden. By the end of it, our arms were trembling with fatigue. However, we loved the result so much that we did not mind the aches and pains. This was our little nod to Zen sensibility -- minimal, peaceful, and harmonious. We had created something beautiful.

Next day, we decided to take a picture for my mum-in-law (from now on known exclusively as Mom) who happens to be a terrific gardener with an exquisite sense of beauty. We filled up the stone bowl with water and floated a cluster of Verbena blossoms. My partner took the picture shown above. Then we went around the corner to take pictures of other parts of the garden that we thought Mom might enjoy. 

After five minutes or so, we decided to go back to the our rock garden and linger a while, soaking up its beauty.When we turned the corner, we were in shock. The water in the bowl had disappeared. The Verbena cluster looked like a ship stranded on the bed of a long ago dried up river or sea. This mystified us -- so much water could not have evaporated in five or ten minutes, and yet we could not deny the fact that there was no trace of water. I took the hose and filled up the bowl again, and we both watched as the water slowly seeped away through the porous stone bowl. Yep, the stone bowl was porous, we had no idea! We laughed our heads off and decided not to seal the bowl. Why? Because the bowl would now forever be symbolic of a lesson we needed to learn - yes Zen is minimal, peaceful, and harmonious, but it is also impermanent. Beauty is impermanent, the marks of hard labor are impermanent, heck everything is impermanent.

Some say that whatever you publish on the Web stays forever. Uh-uh -- that too is impermanent.


  1. Beautiful blog, looking forward to the next story!

  2. Thanks for help understanding art and nature. Often pondered....