There is a gallery of Asian artifacts and furnishings on Main Street, Bellevue called “Mings”. I visited it today, in the quiet of departure and as the ripples of shared times dissipate. For some weeks, I have refused to go into the place, fearing budget-destroying purchases brought on by desire for ancient and beautiful things. Funny how fear so often impedes the simple experience of delight.
As I walked through isles of old rosewood, teak, bronze, and ivory, it occurred to me that many things have changed inside my head and heart of late. Ridiculous introspection, as usual, I suppose, but since meaning is where you find it, that’s not unexpected.
There is an odd ache I get when I see ancient things; it is a blend of thoughts and feelings that includes a sense of impermanence and light sadness of that saudade sort, but also a pure and unadulterated wonder for the myriad ways in which humans so often set beauty into focus. We are, at best, destructive and utterly feckless things and yet, somehow, in the midst of our incessant eagerness to have, hold, change, and use up, we still manage to birth truly wonderful and tender wisps of transient beauty.
I found an ivory statue of Quan Yin hiding in the bottom of a rosewood hutch in the basement of the place. Of all the things there, that small piece touched me most deeply. It is, of course, so far outside the realm of possibility to enjoy except in the viewing as to be effectively illusory; ancient objects of rare materials and sublime craftsmanship are not, I think, on my list of possibilities this life.
This said, just looking at the serene face of her and enjoying the thought of some artisan carefully drawing her features and flowing robes from a roughened tooth was an experience worth having and savoring. I see things like this and, inevitably, I cry. Does that sound odd? I suppose it could be, but beautiful things affect me. Mostly because they remind me that life is short, but also because the hands that made that little statue were amazing and the things that mind could see were too, and it makes me wistful to think of all the wonder I never know because…. well, so many reasons, eh? The realities of time and human lifespans, the pensiveness of impermanence, the distraction of all the things I do that have nothing at all to do with pursuing quiet wonder and appreciative awe, be it in Asian galleries or any other place I spend time experiencing in this life.
This is a multi-layered post, though sadly it is highly likely that the surface is all that will be known outside my head. This too, is part of the wistfulness of this moment, as I spin letters into pixels and try to put words to something that is ultimately inexpressible.
I sigh and give up, for now, anyway. But I think it might be important to cry for beautiful things. Almost as important as remembering to enjoy them when I encounter them.
There is a lot I am not putting on this “page”; instead, letting it simmer uncharacteristically in my forebrain. I begin to think it might be good to soak in them rather than let them sieve out and away. This is, I suppose, a kind of progress and a rather enjoyable one at that; the days of needing to “get it out of my head” are passing and, in their place, the willingness to “keep it in mind”.
Cast in polished, old teeth
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