⟨ Wabi Sabi ⟩

The youth and the aged

What I have learned from plants

Texts and Photography / 林琪香
Translation / Iris Heung

收到兩盆花,幾種類栽在一起的,好不美麗。放在庭園內,初送來時燦燦爛爛,兩三星期後,即使勤澆水,花還是謝了,綠葉也枯萎,看著時不禁感淒涼。

室內也插了幾枝不知名的植物,圓型綠色小球般結成一串,我便笑稱它為串串綠。串串綠壯健非常,給折枝插在水裡,數星期後,還是翠綠豐盈,看著時滿心喜悅。

為了讓植物展現得更美,修剪了豐盈的,剪下了枯萎的,把細枝拼湊在一起,生命的興衰列在眼前,頓感到生命每個片刻都在互相映照。青春面前顯衰老,衰老面前顯幼嫩,不回首過往,不展望將來,青春與衰老,都自在美麗。

再過一季,盆裡原本教我感淒涼的枯萎花樹,又會長出嫩芽來,而花瓶裡叫我喜悅的串串綠,大概早就給我扔到垃圾筒去。常說生命無常,連悲傷喜樂也無常,也不恒久。

I have received two pots of beautiful assorted plants which I placed together in my garden. Their thriving beauty lasted only a couple weeks before they started to wither, despite my dedication to water them frequently. Not only did the flowers wither, the vivid green leaves have also turned yellowish. It made me sad just by looking at them.

Inside of the house, I also keep a few branches of plants. Not knowing the name of their species, I simply call these branches with tiny green balls attached the “green skewer”. The green skewers which I put in a bottle of water are very healthy, they continue to appear green and lively a few weeks after I started keeping them. It delights me when looking at them.

To beautify my plants, I trim the healthy branches and cut away the withered ones. Placing these branches side by side looks like a chronology of life. Every phase of life exists in relation to one another — the aged appears old in front of the youth, the youth appears in lack of history in front of the aged. One has no need to look into the bygone days or to foresee the future, since the youth and the aged are both alluring in their own way.

The pots of withered plant that once saddened me will shoot again when the new season approaches. By then, I should have already thrown away the green skewers which brought me such joy. Same as the unpredictability of life, sorrow and joy are also never predictable, and nothing lasts.