“Civilization is a stream with banks.
The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing,
shouting
and doing things historians usually record,

while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry.
The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks.

Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river.” – Will Durant

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With origins going back to the 14th Century, principles of the little-known ancient philosophy called Wabi Sabi come from ideas about simplicity, naturalness and acceptance of reality. Many of the metaphysical, spiritual and moral principles at its core are similarly found in Taoism and Zen Buddhism. Enlightenment is to simply recognize that “in every moment, everything is either devolving towards or evolving from nothingness — and nothingness, instead of being empty space, is alive with possibility, suggesting that the universe is in constant motion toward or away from infinite potential.”

Wabi-Sabi aims to visually express the truth that comes from the observation of nature. Inseparable from the cycles of nature, we create and we destroy… and still we create some more. Our fingerprint on the universe is interconnected with every other fingerprint, every other thought and especially every other emotion. During most of our daily life, we are aware of what’s in front of us, our interconnectedness only with what’s involved with tasks like making coffee, driving to work, writing emails or watching tv, without much thought to the strings of both subconscious thought and universal consciousness tethered to every moment of it all. However, volumes have been written in philosophical, scientific and spiritual journals that all agree on one thing, that these surface interactions account for a fraction of what makes up our existence, and the power of creation and destruction we all have within in.

As “far out” as all this seems, the more in tune we are to even the idea of the existence of this larger picture, the better our effectiveness is with understanding our needs and the needs of others. Communicating around those needs becomes clearer and less complex. The more receptive we are to the play of color and light, texture and emotion, the more we can recognize the interplay of thoughts and emotions that take place between consumer and product. Resonating with and choosing to buy something, subscribe to something, participate in or attend something is happens on “the banks of the stream” in the quote above. It is the stuff that happens while building homes, making love, raising children, singing songs and writing poetry… making art, and yes, designing websites.

 

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(Wabi Sabi text adapted from “Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers” by Leonard Koren)
(Paintings by Alina Wilczynski)