Wabi-Sabi: The Japanese philosophy centered on the idea that beauty is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

Perhaps you have noticed the dashed lines that appeared last summer on School Street between Central Street and Lincoln Avenue; they were hard to miss.  They arrived overnight.  Wandering.  Errant.  Totally out of order.  They zigged and zagged somewhere near the center of the road where they, presumably, were to have been exactly and tidily placed.

Every time I drove by the lines, which was often, I tried to imagine the circumstances under which they had occurred: Mechanical issues, a squirrel in the road, day drinking, laughing really hard (I hope), or sheer petulance.  However, as time passed and the lines settled into a permanent state of mayhem, I began to look upon them with less curiosity and more of a sort of fondness and familiarity; it occurred to me that they were clearly a representation of life.  Sometimes it just gets away from you.  Does not go as planned.  I began to quietly adore the spirited dashes.  They were incorrigible.  Authentic.  Free.

Then the world changed.  COVID happened.  Life became uncertain and, for me, turned upside down.  Suddenly I began to find comfort in the lines.  Because right as you make your way up the hill to Lincoln Avenue, the dashes returned to something organized.  They steadied out.  They found their way back.  And then, nearly one year after the dashes arrived, the town painted two bright yellow solid lines right down the middle of the entire street.

It was over.  Order was restored.  But, and here is the most marvelous part — the town left the dashes.  A reminder that life is truly unpredictable, it strays from course, takes us in directions we did not expect.  But eventually it steadies out.  Leaving us with the understanding, the reminder, of the illusion of control and the freedom to be found in letting go.  And trusting.


school street, japanese culture, japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi