Loneliness and Wabi-Sabi

Cathy Adams Dear Girls 1 Comment


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Our front porch is one of my favorite places.

I watch the birds and people, I get quiet and usually end up deep in thought.

Sometimes I laugh out loud, sometimes I cry.

You’ve caught me in my teary moments. Even if I tell you I’m OK, you tend to look worried.

But I am OK. I am crying, but I’m also very content.

Emotions are not black and white, life is not black and white. Sometimes in my most contemplative moments, I feel many things at once.

Grief for the world, gratitude for good people, love for my family.

I have a high tolerance for this kind of ambiguity.

Most people are feeling many things at once, but because they would rather be certain, they choose a side.

But truth resides in the grey. That’s why I love the Japanese word, wabi-sabi.

It does not have an English translation, but it can be loosely translated as, “a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and change.”

I would describe my time alone as being filled with wabi-sabi. A moving back and forth between what’s challenging and painful to what’s beautiful and amazing.

When you find me sitting alone in this type of contemplation, you have also asked me if I’m lonely.

I want you to know that I’m not.

I’ve been lonely, and I most certainly will be again, but loneliness is less about proximity to people and more of a feeling of disconnection.

You can be with your friends and feel lonely, you can be in a room filled with people and feel lonely.

Loneliness is better defined as feeling separate or not having a sense of belonging.

For me, being alone is often the direct opposite of loneliness.

I often feel most connected when I am by myself. I can feel my place in the world and I more fully feel my love for others.

This may sound silly, but if you ever feel lonely, I suggest you consider spending time alone.

Create space to remember your importance, to feel how much you are loved and needed.

This will bring up a mix of feelings, and that’s OK. You don’t have to be afraid of feeling sad or angry, they are just energies moving through.

Alongside the sadness and anger is love and joy; they are always intertangled and overlapping.

That’s usually what I’m experiencing when you find me sitting on the porch.

I am alone, but not lonely.

I may be crying, but I’m content.

I’m just embracing the wabi-sabi. I’m just living the grey.

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About the Author

Cathy Adams

Cathy Cassani Adams, LCSW, CPC, CYT is the author of three books including the multiple award-winning Living What You Want Your Kids to Learn: The Power of Self-Aware Parenting. She co-hosts the internationally popular Zen Parenting Radio, and she’s co-creator of the annual Zen Parenting Conference. She’s a sought-after speaker and she teaches in the Sociology/Criminology Department at Dominican University. Cathy and her husband Todd are raising three girls.

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