I was honored to get to spend a week with my daughter, Andrea, and her family in the days before and after the birth of their daughter, our granddaughter, Penelope Rose Miyoko. It was a beautiful experience, though yes, with 4-year old brother Jack and 2-year old brother, Harry–both energetic, intelligent and independent little boys, it brought to mind the philosophy of “wabi sabi.”
Wabi Sabi: a way of looking at the world with a kind of quiet insight; to find beauty, even in imperfection.
I’ve written many essays about this “philosophy,” some of which I hope to one day include in my book Wabi Sabi World. (My blog post, “Wabi Sabi Love”)
Here’s the first family picture with little Penelope:
And here’s a peek at behind-the-scenes leading up to this photo:
On the way home from summer camp the day Penelope was born, Jack was sitting in his car seat behind me.
“Grandma,” he said.
“Yes,” I answered.
“We’re the luckiest family in the whole world.”
“You sure are,” I replied, the lump in my throat cracking my voice.
True, the days that followed were filled with little challenges, or “imperfections.” Jack crying because we didn’t have ice cream for dessert. Harry running away because he didn’t want his diaper changed. Harry knocking down the Triceratops that Jack had worked so hard to build. Too much TV because I was also trying to work some of the week, and the ensuing arguments over whether to watch Blippi or Paw Patrol.
I’ll admit, getting the boys into bed at times felt like dragging myself to the finish line of a marathon, but there’s nothing like the sweetness of holding them in my lap while reading to them at night. Well, now that I think about it, walking into their bedroom in the morning might top that–seeing their smiles and hearing Harry say “Hi, Bop-bop!” (Translation, Hi, Grandma!) Or hearing Jack say, “Hi, Grandma. Guess what I dreamed about last night?”
And of course, there was the pure joy of holding my daughter’s daughter.
Today, while listening to an interview between Ezra Klein and Margaret Atwood, I heard Ezra Klein talk about “wonderful problems”:
“It’s very hard to live as if you know it’s true that the problems I have right now are wonderful problems to have. It doesn’t mean that on some level they’re not problems–I mean, my son was up every hour on the hour overnight–and, whatever, I have all the little difficulties of life, but it is hard to imagine how I will look at myself and my own lack of gratitude at times, but it’s hard to live as if you know how good your life truly is. It’s just a strange thing about being human.”
Andrea and James will certainly have such “wonderful problems” in the weeks and months ahead. We all get tired, we lose our patience, we whine, we laugh, we cry, we love, we run away, we come back for a hug–all on the road between welcoming a new one into the world and saying goodbye to another.
It’s just a strange thing about being human. It’s wabi sabi.