Living Wabi Sabi

It is not despite our problems, but because of them that our hearts hold everything we need to be joyful.” Taro Gold

iphone fencev 040 I am going to begin with some honesty today: Our barn is really not a barn. It is only a corn crib disguised as a barn.

After spending sometime with the goats and chickens yesterday, I began feeling like a disgruntled corn crib owner. All I could see were all of the problems, and began picturing everyone else’s perfect barns.  I don’t really know who these perfect barn owners are, but I know their barns are better than mine. My thoughts quickly spiraled off into images of Animal Welfare folks coming down the driveway with their take-em-away truck because they had gotten wind of the goat turds that are intermittently found floating in water buckets and hiding in baking soda dispensers.

I suppose it could be all of those farm magazines I read… If someone was coming to my house to write a story about my farm,  I guess I would scrub that sucker down too, put diapers on all of the chickens and goats, and maybe replace the chicken feed bags that keep the wind out with a real tarp. My barn would probably look pretty darn good, in kind of an Ozarks- hillbilly sort of way.

Now, let’s rewind things a bit, to an important memory.

I could barely take it all in when my daughters and I drove up the long driveway to the old farmhouse on 1500 acres of land, and there it was… the little red barn within walking distance of the house. At the time, I knew nothing about corn cribs, so it was a barn to me. We looked at the house and I was giddy, but not as giddy as when the gentleman told me that the corn crib was apart of the agreement. He slid open the heavy old door and I could do nothing but grin. It was a real old barn with its rafters full of spider webs and the sun shining and wind blowing through the broken panes of glass of the four square windows. My senses overloaded with joy. It’s almost like I could see the chickens roosting in the rafters and the goats bedded down together in the golden straw. It was perfectly imperfect.

This memory began flickering as I was contemplating my barn dilemma at the kitchen table. At that same moment, the mailman drove up our driveway, and hopped out with a package. In that package was a book from a friend titled, Living Wabi Sabi by Taro Gold. There sat in front of me a book about an ancient Japanese Buddhist philosophy centering around “…the oddities, the perfectly imperfect uniqueness of you and me and everything…the value of objects, events, and the entirety of life “as is” unpolished, unpredictable, and natural.” It is a book about the empowerment of imperfection.

The book begins with the author’s grandma telling him, ” You will grow to be even happier than you can possibly imagine today.” She was right. After reading the book that same morning, I felt tremendous joy about who I am and the life that I am living.

There is so much beauty in everything that is imperfect, including you and me. The broken window at the peak of barn is like my anxiety, or the open slats that have to be covered to keep the wind out are like my imperfect body, or the never-ending shit that is everywhere, and I mean everywhere (please be careful  where you put your hand) is like the poo of life that just won’t go away no matter how much you try to scrub it. Scrape away one giant pile of frozen shit one day, undoubtedly there will be a new one soon there after.

I guess the more I love and accept my Wabi Sabi corn crib, the more I can love my Wabi Sabi self.

I am including a video of a group of people in Paraguay, South America that seems to embody the Wabi Sabi philosophy. It’s so beautifully imperfect.

Curiosity Watered the Goat

Cleaning the barn day 2013 009

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
e. e. cummings

I slowly opened the gate and I watched them pause in the doorway, as they always do. It is as if they are asking, “Is this really ok?” and then once again step out to experience the splendor of a world with no walls or electric fences. This is our family’s first walk of spring with our goats, Luna the Saanen and Areida the Alpine.

Shortly after that peaceful pause, it is complete pandemonium. These goats are like two freight trains carrying a special shipment of curiosity and tenacity. It does make you laugh, right before you want to cry, watching all of the chickens scatter as the goats attempt to demolish everything in their path in search of anything that they are not supposed to have. Luna is no angel but she sometimes acts like a giant marshmallow in comparison to her devilish sister. She just lacks Areida’s consistent “pulverize everything in your path to get what you want, all the time” attitude. On top of all of that, goats seem to have the gift of mind reading. Whatever it is that you want your goat to avoid, that will be the first thing that they seek out and destroy (and/or eat). I suppose it is a bit like toddlers, yet these toddlers are 130 pounds.Cleaning the barn day 2013 003

We finally made our way out of the barn and all six of us were walking on the trail next to Coon Creek, which runs through the property. Areida began looking curiously at the rushing water next to us and decided to climb down the embankment and check out the creek herself. Her ears were pointed forward in curiosity, as she explored the weeds and moved closer to the water. Luna watched from the safety of the path as Areida finally made her way to the water’s edge, and took her first drink that did not include a bucket!

Cleaning the barn day 2013 006Cleaning the barn day 2013 005Cleaning the barn day 2013 007Cleaning the barn day 2013 012Cleaning the barn day 2013 011