I am a seeker. I am curious. I am inquisitive. I love to read about and explore new concepts and ideas, practices unfamiliar to my “typical” American upbringing, ways of thinking that crack open pieces of me inside. I love “ah-ha moments” and crave that feeling when my brain kind of hurts from stretching it to consider something beyond the shallower depths of everyday life.
I also love words. And in my learning I sometimes stumble upon words that jump off the page and light me up. Today I want to share a handful of words that have come to me as gifts of possibility over the years.
Wabi Sabi is a Japanese term that encapsulates the idea of embracing simple, natural beauty in the imperfection and impermanence of everything. “Wabi” insinuates a humble and simple presence, completely in harmony with nature. “Sabi” embraces the cyclical nature of all things, inherently yet gracefully losing their conventional beauty over time. Simple, imperfect, and unexpected beauty–to me that is just calming to my soul.
Hygge is a Danish term that is tough to translate to English, so I’ll set the scene: Outside it’s cold, dark, and damp. But inside there are a group of friends and family gathered on soft cushions, draped in snuggly throw blankets circling a rustic wooden table. Flickering candlelight is abundant and offers the space a warm and inviting glow. The concept of time floats away as a low to moderate murmer of intimate conversation and discussion of life fills the room, with gentle guitar music being played in the background. Everyone casually and consistently sips wine and snacks on hearty food. Cozy might be the best translation, but you can see, Hygge goes deeper and warms the soul.
C’appel du Vide
It’s a somewhat odd impulse that overcomes the mind…this is a beautiful vista, standing here from this ledge at the top of the mountain. What if I just…jumped? “The call of the void” in French. I think we’ve all felt this urge, this inexplicable temptation to disregard the dire consequences and enter the dark abyss. Not from a place of depression or sadness, just a curiosity about the void. In researching this phrase I read of several theories and metaphors that had the gears of my brain turning, but for now, I think I’ll suffice it to say that when we recognize the vastness of our existence, we sometimes can’t help but want to swan dive in to the unknowing. Deep, man.
Duende is a spanish word that attempts to capture the essence of breathtaking enrapture. It’s the physical/emotional response to spontaneous creation. The chills, the hair standing up on your arms, the rush of warm energy you feel flood your body, the outburst–laugh, cry, release–that just happens inadvertently when you are overcome by the works of the muse. The idea of it THRILLS me!
Shinrin – Yoku
Forest bathing! Oh my! Shinrin-Yoku is a practice developed in Japan in the 1980’s (so great that we’re tapping in to such wisdom in contemporary times!) that proves that time in the woods under a canopy of trees–“taking in the forest atmosphere”–is really good for our health. It calms our nervous system, strengthens our immune system, and helps to restore a sense of vitality to our mind, body, and spirit. I’m so on board with this. Walking in the woods is one of my favorite things to do, especially when I’m feeling stressed (it has become a ritual for me to go on a simple stroll on the trails before Thanksgiving dinner) or when I want to tap in to my creativity (on days I know I’m going to be writing I try to start my day early by strapping on my sneakers and getting out in nature when the world is still quiet.)
I had so much fun revisiting these new findings and hope that learning about them inspired you to look in to them a bit further or maybe even incorporate awareness around one of them in your life. If you know of any other cool words that don’t translate well to english, or any intriguing practices from different cultures or ancient times, please share in the comment section below! I love to read your comments and I love to be inspired, so bring it!