Fantasy, Reality & The Wabi-Sabi of Self Love

October 18, 2015 § 9 Comments

By Tai WoodvilleAneta Ivanova, ode to the seaAneta Ivanova, “Ode to the Sea.”

Loving ourselves is a daily practice.

We often think of self-love as a state of being — either we have it or we don’t. But I have learned through much struggle over the years that self-love is actually a verb, an action. It is a choice we make anew each day to take care of ourselves, to believe in ourselves & to treat ourselves with dignity, kindness & respect. When we see the dignity in ourselves it is easier to see & honor it in others.

In my life I have loved—and at times been obsessed with—perfection. Like so many who appreciate & feel moved by beauty & art, I become easily attached to symmetry & consistency.

fibanocci spiral

In the Platonic tradition there is a realm of ideal forms. This mental plane is a source of great inspiration & imagination, a place of pure potential. Yet when fantasy meets reality, we often feel disconcerted by the discrepancy.

We judge our lives, ourselves as ugly.

edward honaker, depression photographs, struggle, angstEdward Honaker

We as humans are conceptual architects. We are constantly constructing our relationship to reality—and thereby reality itself—with the story we tell ourselves. We build frameworks & points of reference. But we must watch not to build prisons.

I find my negative judgments & consequential emotional pain most often centers around where the real meets the ideal & falls short. But I am beginning to suspect that, rather than conflicting opposites, one is the spirit of the other.

self-love, roses blooming inside silhouette, double exposure, flowers

The ideal is the grandest possible vision of a thing, but how it shows itself in physical reality is what makes it interesting. It becomes the wabi-sabi ideal, a beautiful expression of organic process, the real in its most thrilling sense: alive.

We must learn to love the real because we are real.  And when we are kind to ourselves we are kinder to others.

1-hannover-double-exposure

Aneta Ivonova, “Hannover.”

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§ 9 Responses to Fantasy, Reality & The Wabi-Sabi of Self Love

  • batgurrl says:

    I am touched by this article of yours. It has confirmed a new path I took recently when others asked for my advise. Let me set the stage, this is around a department at work that I interact with. The leader made a big change in staff by letting a favorite person go and hiring a new one.

    Several of her employees came to me frustrated and fearful that without her we would all fail.

    Part of me wanted to lash out at this leader who would put his people in a deep hole. He is not well liked nor respected by many. But instead of sinking to that level I told many the following:

    I have a devil on one of my shoulders who wants me to not support the new guy and indirectly punish or make that other person who caused this to lose face or fail.

    On my other shoulder is an angel. I tell them that I decided to go with what the Angel Batgirl whispers in my ear instead of the Devil Batgirl. We need to rise above the negativity and do our best to make things work out. Otherwise we are just as bad.

    I can’t tell you how good this felt. Revenge is not a sweet taste and turning my back on that brought me to the sweet place instead of sucking up the bitterness.

    So, yes it is all tangled up and we need to be kind to ourselves and others. Thank you so much for this validation and your deep look at our inner selves in your articles.

    R

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you so much for telling me! The high road always feels better. Hard to remember in the moment. But always a triumph in the end!

      On on,

      TCW

  • Winn Perdue says:

    Tai…. Missed you. Glad “you’re back.” I often re read your writing about “Wabi-Sabi: The Beauty of Imperfection” and find something new to reflect on with regards to my aging, the new vs the old, the process of separating self from striving for the perfect to accept that which I am. And see the beauty in the nature of growing old not as a curse but a gift, where the best revenge is positive love of self and the ever evolving love of life to which we may act toward others with kindness, wisdom, and compassion, Be safe, be well, be happy.

    wp

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Dear Winn,

      Thank you so much for your kind & thoughtful comment!🙂 Yes, I’ve been mulling themes & meaning to write here; been focusing on completing a writing project for which I have some literary agent interest. (Fingers crossed!) It’s been consuming. But it’s good to know my Parallax posts are appreciated. I’ll definitely try to keep up the groove. I think by writing slightly shorter pieces, like this one, I’ll be able to do it!

      The theme of this post is close to my heart as well. In this modern age are barraged with such images of impossible, plasticized perfection. It’s important & helpful I think to remember the beauty of natural process &, rather than resist it, rejoice in the existential grace of what we can not change.

      On on,

      TCW

  • Rod Maupin says:

    Hi Tai,

    This is an interesting post. I’m not someone who strives to attain perfection in my life. Rather, I strive to be the best I can be everyday. I actually see perfection as unattainable and perhaps even boring. And if you are locked into the idea that you must attain perfection, then it implies that you are now imperfect. That also goes along with being good and bad. It’s polarity.

    For me, reincarnation is a fact and I accept that I have lived more times than I can count. There have been many books written about children who remember other lifetimes. Even, the University of Virginia has done studies on this. Most people say past lives, but time is not really linear. So it’s not really a past life, just another lifetime.

    We really have two camps of people. Those that remember they have lived before, and those that don’t remember. Of the ones that don’t remember, the religious ones feel that one lifetime is all you get. Okay then, how do we explain away the people who remember they’ve lived before? Sure, it could be chemicals gone wild in the brain or the Devil playing tricks on you. But really, is that the best they can come up with?

    It seems like it’s going to be very hard to attain perfection when we’ve lived many times before, but we don’t remember anything about those lives, and consequently, do not have access to the knowledge gained in those lives. It seems like a really depressing thing. Reincarnating, not remembering, and having to learn everything all over again the next time around.

    Quantum Mechanics talks about the Mulitverse (many worlds) and about parallel realities. But scientists don’t really want to come out and admit that all times exist simultaneously.

    If all times exist simultaneously, then all lifetimes/incarnations must also
    exist simultaneously. Moreover, if you are aware of this, you could use this to your advantage and contact yourself or your relatives in other incarnations that are going on in the same time period.

    For example, let’s say you are someone in 2015 who has become aware of another incarnation where you passed away, let’s say 10 years ago. Let’s also say that in that life you were happily married and had a daughter. Your wife from that incarnation passed away after you, but your daughter is still living. Moreover, you found out she is living just a couple hours away from you now. In your current incarnation in 2015, you are aware of this other incarnation, and moreover, you feel you could reach out through time and contact your daughter from this other incarnation. You may think this is a silly notion. How could you have two incarnations in the same time period? Well, it’s entirely possible if people reincarnate with no memory. You wouldn’t be aware of any other incarnations that were going on at the same time.

    To continue the example, if you did make contact with your daughter from another incarnation, and you both picked up where you left off, so to speak, then that might go a long way into making sure that the next time around, you came back with the memory of at least your 2015 life, and wouldn’t have to start all over again. It seems to me that if you could contact your selves or your relatives in other incarnations, it would go a long way towards your own personal evolution.

    If this were all the case, and you were able to have contact with your other selves in other incarnations, and perhaps even work together, you would probably evolve a lot faster than most other people. At least you would be doing something different than everyone else. And let’s face it, there’s not much evolution going on in the world right now.

    What does all this have to do with perfection? I just think it’s going to be
    hard to attain “perfection”, if that is your wish, when you reincarnate and
    don’t remember anything from your other lifetimes.

    I’m glad Tai, that you know there is life after death and you received the
    message from your grandmother, who sounds like a very wise lady. And who knows, perhaps one day someone who knew you in another incarnation will contact you. That would make things interesting, wouldn’t it?

    Keep writing. It’s most enjoyable.

    Rod

  • Rod says:

    Hi Tai,

    This is an interesting post. I’m not someone who strives to attain perfection in my life. Rather, I strive to be the best I can be everyday. I actually see perfection as unattainable and perhaps even boring. And if you are locked into the idea that you must attain perfection, then it implies that you are now imperfect. That also goes along with being good and bad. It’s polarity.

    For me, reincarnation is a fact and I accept that I have lived more times than I can count. There have been many books written about children who remember other lifetimes. Even, the University of Virginia has done studies on this. Most people say past lives, but time is not really linear. So it’s not really a past life, just another lifetime.

    We really have two camps of people. Those that remember they have lived before, and those that don’t remember. Of the ones that don’t remember, the religious ones feel that one lifetime is all you get. Okay then, how do we explain away the people who remember they’ve lived before? Sure, it could be chemicals gone wild in the brain or the Devil playing tricks on you. But really, is that the best they can come up with?

    It seems like it’s going to very hard to attain perfection when we’ve lived
    many times before, but we don’t remember anything about those lives, and consequently, do not have access to the knowledge gained in those lifetimes. It seems like a really depressing thing. Reincarnating, not remembering, and having to learn everything all over again the next time around.

    Quantum Mechanics talks about the Mulitverse (many worlds) and about parallel realities. But scientists don’t really want to come out and admit that time is an illusion and all times exist simultaneously. And they won’t touch the subject of reincarnation.

    If all times exist simultaneously, then all lifetimes/incarnations must also
    exist simultaneously. Moreover, if you are aware of this, you could use this to your advantage and contact yourself or your relatives in other incarnations that are going on in the same time period.

    For example, let’s say you are someone in 2015 who has become aware of another incarnation where you passed away, let’s say 10 years ago. Let’s also say that in that life you were happily married and you had a daughter. Your wife from that incarnation passed away after you, but your daughter is still living. Moreover, you found out she is living just a couple hours away from you now. In your current incarnation in 2015, you are aware of this other incarnation, and moreover, you feel you could reach out through time and contact your daughter from this other incarnation. You may think this is a silly notion. How could you have two incarnations in the same time period? Well, it’s entirely possible if people reincarnate with no memory. You wouldn’t be aware of any other incarnations that were going on at the same time.

    To continue the example, if you did make contact with your daughter from another incarnation, then that might go a long way into making sure that the next time around, you came back with the memory of at least your 2015 life, and wouldn’t have to start all over again. It seems to me that if you could contact your selves or your relatives in other incarnations, it would go a long way towards your own personal evolution.

    If this were all the case, and you were able to have contact with your other selves in other incarnations, and perhaps even work together, you would probably evolve a lot faster than most other people. At least you would be doing something different than everyone else. And let’s face it, there is not much evolution going on in the world right now.

    What does all this have to do with perfection? I just think it’s going to be
    hard to attain “perfection”, if that is your wish, when you reincarnate and
    don’t remember anything from your other lifetimes.

    I’m glad Tai, that you know there is life after death and you received the
    message from your grandmother, who sounds like a very wise lady. And who knows, perhaps someone will one day contact you who knew you in another incarnation. That would make things interesting, wouldn’t it?

    Keep writing. It’s most enjoyable.

    Rod

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you, Rod, for your thought provoking comment. I am most intrigued with your theory of reincarnation! I fall into the camp who feels they have lived before. And I agree that time does not seem linear. In my most connected, inspired moments this has seemed self-evident. It makes perfect sense that parallel lives could exist, as reality seems, in its true state, far more multi-layered & even simultaneous than our process of it.

      I seem to wake up intermittently, then fall back to sleep. Then wake up again. I think I only get fixated on the idea of perfection when I am sleepwalking, to coin a useful analogy.😉

      Tonight I am awake & perfection feels a mental concept. You’re right; it’s based in polarity, which is missing the essential truth that what seems dichotomiezed is related & paradoxically unified….What seems separate, connected. I really should expand on that post…it felt incomplete but I had gone so long without posting I just published it anyway. Just to get something out.

      I have a feeling 2016 is going to yield many more insights ~ for all ~ and for Parallax that will mean entries. It is feeling like a year of remembering. A “light year.”😉

      On on,

      TCW

  • 64doors says:

    I was not raised around a television or any form of advertising, and yet I suffer from that image of perfection that women in particular have been subject to by the world’s idea of some symmetrical beauty.
    What’s ironic is that when I love myself I am everything I ever wanted to be, and this is not true at any other time. We’ve all heard of the man who says “You’re so beautiful” to the woman in her nighty with touseled hair and a toothbrush stuck in her mouth. That’s because she isn’t trying to be anything at that moment, she is only being herself, and that is what is beautiful.

    No matter what you weigh, no matter how “bad” your skin is or crooked your nose is, you can become the incredibly beautiful person you want to be by simply loving yourself. We truly are perfect exactly as we are, and those that love us the most can see it…why can’t we? We refuse to have pictures taken of us, when the person in those pictures is the person that everyone we know loves dearly just as they are. It’s sad that we cannot accept ourselves as those who mean the most to us do.

    What’s even further impossible to believe is the moment you truly learn to love yourself you often start losing weight or you find that one type of face wash that works perfectly with your skin. With me, my addiction to food began to wane, and I found that I was hungry less and less, and that foods which were bad for me began to make me feel bad. This is a process I am still going through, waxing and waning because, as you say, self~love is an action that must be attained daily.
    So much of what ails us is the resistance to the natural way. Once we let go of that resistance we stop suffering from many issues that seemed unsolvable. There literally are no boundaries, nothing is set in stone. You don’t have to stick to some diet or buy expensive products to be the best you. You only have to love yourself, and the rest takes care of itself.

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