⟨ Wabi Sabi ⟩

Thrive happily at times, whither gloomily at times

Words & Photography / Ron Lam

最近忙著處理京都一家畫廊的建築工程,兩層高的房屋被庭園三面環抱著,面積不大,還是請來了庭園師來幫忙設計。還未開口說明要求,庭園師便說:「找一些春季會開花、夏季時長果實,秋季時葉子轉紅的植物吧。至於冬季,葉子掉光的樹木也很漂亮。」四時變化展現在植物之上,春暖花開,秋夏兩季結的果實教人感到生命的豐盛,而紅葉艷麗,叫人興奮莫明。冬季,寒冷的冬季,情緒大都如萬物冬眠活躍不起來,庭園師卻不視之為蒼涼落寞,禿禿的枝頭,也別具一種美感。

櫻花之美,匆匆的來,匆匆而去,紅葉亦同樣不作久留,因為短暫,觀賞時感驚艷又心痛,婉惜生命之脆弱,更珍惜其綻放之時。冬季何嘗不是短暫的,來來去去,總會完結,總會再來。這樣說,便明白到禿樹的美,不但來自枝椏的姿態,也因為其展現了生命的其中一個階段。喜悅悲哀,燦爛枯萎,都是暫時的,都不過是生命的一個階段而已。

My recent major task is to coordinate an architectural project for an art gallery in Kyoto. There is a garden surrounding three sides of the two-storey building. Despite the small size, we still hired a professional landscape gardener to design. Before I even started to express my request, the garden designer told me, ‘The most ideal plant is the ones that flower in spring, give fruits in summer, and bear leaves that turn red in autumn. As for winter, trees without leaves have their own charm too.’ Plants respond to seasonal changes: they echo the spring warmth with blooming flowers; fruits that they bear during summer and autumn remind people of the vitality of life; the spectacular red leaves simply attract eyeballs like magnet attracting metal. Whereas when the cold winter comes, people’s state of mind is as dormant as creatures in hibernation. The garden designer does not see bleakness and lonesome in the season of inactivity; instead, he finds a unique elegance in the bare tree branches.

The beauty of cherry blossoms often comes and goes in haste; the beauty of red leaves is equally short-lived. Their glamour is momentary yet vulnerable, alluring and yet dreary. Winter is in truth as transitory as cherry blossoms and red leaves that come and go in a certain pattern. The beauty of bare trees does not merely come from the shape of a naked tree branch, but it is also a beauty that represents a certain stage of a life cycle. Any kind of emotion, any stage of a plant’s life, nothing is eternal; everything on earth is utterly a temporary phase of life.