June 17, 2010

College Graduation, 2010

Posted in Children, Family tagged , , , , , , , at 7:01 am by Liliana

Sasha and Nena

Sasha and Nena

Last weekend was special. My daughter Nena and nephew Sasha graduated from college. Together.

Born three weeks apart (Nena is older!) with very different personalities and approaches to life, these two cousins grew up in devoted families in the same town. They were in many ways closer than siblings, not having that sibling rivalry to contend with.

When they were toddlers, we called them rug rats or twins.

Both flourished during the four years at the small liberal arts college they attended. They shared friends, professors, and classes. But as they grew and changed, they learned to argue and criticize each other. They also gave each other space as they made inroads into their own interests and fields of study.

Nena’s style is to dig deeply within herself as well as research and learn all she can about a topic. She is introvert, artistic and contemplative.

Sasha casts his net wide and gathers information from the people and the environment around him. He is gregarious, extrovert, willing and interested in engaging anyone in a conversation on any issue.

Nena is a talented poet who majored in philosophy and worked as a teaching assistant for all four years. Sasha majored in English literature, but his main interests are social justice and civil rights law. He worked with juvenile offenders, Mexican immigrants and community organizers.

As I kneeled by the stage, waiting to take pictures of my two college graduates, this is what I heard. The college president called the name Alexander Holtzman, then Natalia Holtzman, and from their family, classmates and professors erupted a wild roar of applause.

And while my little rug rats, Sasha and Nena, entered one side of the stage, out the other side came a tall, strapping young man and a beautiful, poised young woman.

These two cousins – a gift to the world!


April 8, 2010

Wabi Sabi – the Art of Imperfection

Posted in Traditions tagged , , , , , at 7:31 am by Liliana

Wabi Sabi Vase

Wabi Sabi Vase

Recently I read an interesting article on the  Japanese art of Wabi Sabi.

Have you ever heard about it?

It is a term that symbolizes beauty found in change and imperfection.

Wabi Sabi is an approach to life and art that originated in 16th century Japanese culture.  It symbolizes, on one hand, a recognition of harmony with nature, and on the other, an appreciation of constant state of flux, transience and decay. In fact, the very essence of beauty is to be found in life’s impermanence and the process of metamorphosis.

This philosophy finds beauty in aging, both in things and in people. It encourages us to be content with what we have, rather than to always strive for more. Many of us live in a state of constant dissatisfaction and unhappiness with the way things are right now. But think how liberating it would be to admit that there is no such thing as perfection! This doesn’t mean that we should settle, or not work hard to improve our lot in life. Wabi Sabi is about finding balance and contentment in what we have, at the same time that we strive for discipline, self-control and enlightenment.

Japanese artists often leave imperfections in their art. A delicate fractures in the glaze of a vase, a rough patch on the surface of a bowl, an unexpected brush stroke in an ethereal watercolor. These purposeful blemishes are a vivid reminder that nothing in life is perfect – nor does it need it to be.