Inspiration for this post came in the form of a Blog Award Nomination from Cecilia Kennedy at Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks DIY Blog. I am a frequent reader of her enjoyable prose, and humbly grateful for her mention of my blog. Thank You, Cecilia. The question she posed along with this nomination got me thinking…
What’s your favorite way to preserve important memories/traditions?
This is what I came up with…
Honoring Yesterday Without Hanging On
One of the first roadblocks you encounter as you embark on a serious Spiritual Path is the accumulated mental, emotional and physical baggage of your own past. There’s some nasty stuff lurking in that baggage, and Memory is the key that unlocks most of it. In the course of even the most seemingly benign life, huge amounts of emotional detritus, mental garbage and physical angst and imbalance are packed away to sneak up on you at the most inopportune times. Harboring the past can and does effect every aspect of life—it can keep you from happiness and content, cause mental or physical illness, and stop you from achieving your goals. So why do we hang on to these Memories? It is ingrained in us from birth. We get emotionally or intellectually involved in every minute detail of life, and we don’t Let Go when the moment has past. Instead, we judge others and ourselves, regret actions, feel guilt or try to impose it on those we think have “hurt” us. And hold on to it all till the bitter end.
It’s not just things we think of as bad or traumatic that we cling to either. Be it a feeling, a sensation or physical gratification, we seek not only to repeat the experience but to maintain it in memory. So, if ice cream is good occasionally…eat it every day. If that magical feeling of falling in love is your panacea…enter into a series of shallow and ultimately unfulfilling relationships to keep experiencing it. The list of things we do to feed our memory banks is endless. Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll! We are a race of sensation seekers.
Just as Memory is the minefield of Spiritual attainment, it is also a valuable Tool. When a very powerful memory (you know the ones—complete with cinematic soundtrack and in Technicolor) arises to bring forth the set of negative or even positive emotions associated with it, the Seeker has the opportunity to look closely, to discover the roots of these strong feelings. It is important to get all of the way through this emotional gestalt and to return the Energy you have tied up in this recall to the people, place and time it belongs in. Sounds simple! And yes, the principle is really that straightforward, it just isn’t always easy. However, if we Intend to progress on our Path, and to let go of the encumbrances of the past, it will occur.
While this process (I call it Clearing) may seem complete to you at some point, usually after a period of intense Self examination (I call it the roller coaster ride through Hell; it has also been likened to peeling the layers of an onion), it is really a lifelong commitment. We can get better and better at not clinging, but the very nature of material existence lets things get by us.
Memories Without Anchors
You may wonder if I am saying dump all of your precious memories. Not at all. But the nature of Memory will change drastically. When the attached emotions and feelings are stripped away, the accumulated bits of your past do lose their vibrancy and film-like quality. They become more like paging through an album of still photos, flat and not imbued with lives of their own, but pleasant to visit once in a while and a shared foundation for interpersonal relationships. Also, these memories are potentially useful in healing work with those you share past associations with. What comes up often points out imbalances or conflicts that need to be addressed. You may discover as well, that one or more persons who have shared what should be the same experiences, may remember them very differently, or not at all. Our continuity is a fragile thing. We do, whether we are aware or not, rewrite our history in subtle, or not so subtle ways, on an ongoing basis.
Tradition can be a way of maintaining continuity and connection with both the past and other people. However, it should be treated like our memories, as something to be maintained only if and as long as it serves us. It should not be treated as a rigid or slavish adherence to forms that have lost meaning in our present situation, but as an organic Celebration of the important passages in life. I quite enjoy our traditional family celebrations. I am not precisely a Christian, though my antecedents and some of my contemporaries were and some still are, but I honor Christianity and many of its traditions and trappings. I love Christmas and Easter, and celebrate them with my less than traditional, in many cases, family. Our family traditions continue to change and evolve with time and circumstance though, and that is as it should be.
I think that when we begin treating Memory and Tradition like helium balloons—buoyant and ephemeral— rather than as anchors, trapping us in the thrall of the past, we begin to experience real freedom. We find ourselves greeting each moment and celebration as a new experience rather than as a chore or obligation.
Reflecting on memory and tradition brought me back to another concept that I have been exploring just recently. It is the traditional Japanese aesthetic called Wabi-Sabi. I first encountered the concept while following up on some Trend forecasts. Being an Etsy online merchant and active through my shop on various Social Media, it behooves me to keep an eye on what is catching the mass consciousness attention. From a passing fascination with the contemporary expression of this very old idea, I found a much deeper interest in researching its origins and traditional meanings.
From Wikipedia: In traditional Japanese aesthetics, Wabi-sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, roughness, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.
The concept derives from the Buddhist teaching regarding the Three Marks of Existence— Impermanence, Suffering and Emptiness (absence of Self-Nature). So, in essence, wabi-sabi can be described as beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. The root words, Wabi and Sabi have apparently evolved over time. Wabi’s original meaning referred to the loneliness of living alone in nature, remote from society. Sabi meant lean or withered. More recent connotations for Wabi involve quiet, freshness and a rustic simplicity— Sabi is the beauty and serenity that comes with age; patina, wear and visible repair.
While for many centuries Wabi-Sabi incorporated artistic and Buddhist influences from China, over time it settled into a very distinctly Japanese ideal. Though the original influence of Wabi-Sabi was toward understanding emptiness and imperfection in regard to taking the first steps toward Enlightenment, in present day Japan, it is more often condensed into “wisdom in natural simplicity” or “flawed beauty”. To sum it up: Wabi-sabi is intuitive appreciation of the transient beauty in the physical world reflecting the irreversible flow of life in the spiritual world. It is an aesthetic sensibility that finds melancholic beauty in the impermanence of all things. ( Some information excerpted From: WABI-SABI and UNDERSTANDING JAPAN)
I find myself fascinated with the entire concept, both its traditional roots and its contemporary interpretation. Maybe a bit strange for a self-proclaimed perfectionist. However, If I have learned nothing else these past few years, it is that I have to Let Go. While I may dream of being the woman who can have it all—business, home, family, hobbies— shiny and perfect, the truth is I can only do so much. I can try to have a magazine worthy home, but I have come to accept that this glossy perfection seldom extends far beyond the camera frame, and that it takes an enormous amount of time and energy to achieve. I’ve quit kicking myself for not meeting my diet and exercise goals completely. Baby Steps is my new philosophy. And, being a vintage seller—and collector— how can I not appreciate transient beauty, the imperfection of a well-loved item and the magnificent patina of age?
Besides, I think I have reached a stage in life where I can be considered Wabi-Sabi! Till next time…
In the Spirit of passing on the Love to some other WordPress Bloggers who are awesome and should be Nominated for all the blog awards. Here are a few of My favorites:
Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks (of course)