⟨ Wabi Sabi ⟩

The new stone, the old stone

Words / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

要不是庭園師跟我說,我定察覺不到庭園裡多了一塊石頭。那是他今天早上才替我搬進來的,足有一個兩歲小孩的大小,橫躺在庭園一邊的碎石小路上時,卻一點都不起眼,彷彿在數十數百年前它就住在這裡,經歷過這片土地曾經歷過的所有風風雨雨。

那塊石頭著實曾伴著這城市經歷過很多歷史,它曾經被鑲在京都路面電車路軋旁,被電車輾過滑過,被行人跑過踏過,數十年下來,所有稜角都給磨滑了,尖銳處都圓潤了。電車停駛了,它被拆下了,跟它的伙伴們分道揚鑣,四散至各家各戶的玄關前庭園內。

聽庭園師說,這些被棄用的老石頭曾經非常廉價,有一陣子,在建造新家與新店舖要找裝飾性的石材時,大家都寧願選擇看來光鮮的,使人聯想到嶄新時代與生活的新石頭,不知何時起,大家開始看懂了舊石頭的溫柔,明白它的價值,於是定價便貴了三四倍。只是沒有誰會埋怨它的高價,畢竟它的美任何人都無法模仿,因為打磨它的不是誰人,而是歲月,捉不緊留不住的長久歲月。

There is no way for me to be aware of the new piece of stone sitting in the garden if it wasn’t the gardener mentioning to me. Although this piece of stone that he brought in this morning is as big as a two-year-old child, it is so unapparent when lying on top of the pebbles in the garden. It seems more like a stone that has been here for decades, or even hundreds of year, as if having gone through all the thunder and rainfall with the patch of land it lies on.

This piece of stone has indeed witnessed many phases of the city’s history. It was once attached to the Kyoto tramway, and got grinned smooth by the tram wheels and pedestrians’ steps. After decades of serving, all of its sharp edges were polished flat. Stones along the tramway were removed after the tram ceased running for the city; it finally went on a separate path with many other stones, which also scattered around the gardens of different households.

The gardener then told me that these abandoned old stones were once unwanted material. There was a time when people only looked for shiny stones when decorating a new house or store, which seem to indicate a new era and a new life. At some point people somehow changed their attitude and started to appreciate the gentleness of old stones; the price suddenly increased by three to four times because people finally got to know their value. Regardless of the radical price increase, old stones are still loved by the market, as their beauty is irreproducible. Such beauty cannot be recreated by human, because it is entirely in the hands of the time that human can never control.