David Whyte, the poet and founder of Invitus Conversational Leadership, encouraged us to ask beautiful questions – intimate invitations to shaping our identity, to making ourselves and our work visible to the world. I spent a year asking a variety of questions, one of which was:
“How can I inhabit more fully the elements into which I was born?”
I grew up with a dad who loved being outdoors; he was always hiking through local trails and creek beds, looking for mushrooms after a rain or for weeds that were edible, gathering interesting stumps to decorate the yard from the beaches of the California coast. I realize that I too do this, and continue to do this. I never have considered myself an athletic-outdoorsy person; I never learned to ski, or surf or rock climb… I did learn to walk, quietly and pay close attention, to pick only a few mushrooms so that there would be plenty of spores left for next year. I learned to see the differences in trees and pick wild edible plants. Of course as a teenager, I quickly tired of my dad’s ‘teachings”, but never did I tire of the being in nature. My high school years were filled with days of sitting on rocks in the Cold Springs Creek, or laying beside the river in the Santa Ynez mountains with friends, just being together. When I first met Sean, our first dates were car camping in the Sepse wilderness above Ojai. He said one of the things he loved about me was that I was content just sitting on a rock.
All of this is the ground upon which I sit and the place where I’m starting WabiMoss with Sean. I made a preserved moss painting for our friends cafe, and in doing so have felt a sense of coming home, a sense of inhabiting the elements into which I was born. Placing moss, found sticks, a nest, or lichen gathered on walks into beautiful frames Sean made for me felt like a homecoming.
Within a few days, he made a website, we hired a professional photographer and we ordered up some preserved moss, gathered lichen and twigs from the coast and from our mountain cabin retreat and WabiMoss was born. We visit Japan frequently, and have a special love affair with the Japanese aesthetic. The name is a bit of a play on words, as “wabi” is the essence of beauty in simplicity and the ending “masu” [pronounced like moss] in Japanese is the ending of many verbs; it’s the stem when creating present-tense, polite forms of verbs. So WabiMoss is a play on this Japanese stem, as if to translate into “to be ‘wabi.'” This is my very loose interpretation of the very complex Japanese language. I am sure my very correct Japanese friends would shake there head at me and smile, but hey! It’s my word!
What is your beautiful question? My wish is that it will lead you to your ground, your personal frontier, and that you have the courage to take the first small step. Here’s to the adventure!