Saturday, June 21, 2008
Tea Table Wabi Sabi
This inexpensive tea table is like many others in China. It was likely manufactured piece by piece using the cheapest means, by the cheapest Chinese labourers. Labourers that work in hot unairconditioned workshops and that are probably paid less in a month than some people make in an hour. The factory likely churns out hundreds of these small wood tables everyday. The trademarked emblem that is pressed into the wood suggest the normality of such a table.
Despite these commonalities, this table is like no other. Because it is made up of wood it is always alive. Wood, unlike most materials, was once a living creature. When the wood is stripped away from the tree it continues to live on. In this case, it lives on as a tea table.
It breathes. As the wood is exposed to humidity or lack thereof, it grows, expands, twists, and moves. Over time its outer form changes. Wood tea tables are especially alive. They are under constant exposure to water and the resulting humidity.
This table is alive.
It has been in use almost daily for the last year and over this time it has changed. It has developed unique stains and marks that have given it more a sense of identity than the trademarked emblem ever had. There is natural beauty in each blemish.
Throughout its use it has also cracked. The water and tea have found their way into the wood causing it to expand. After a long period of use with many good tea sessions, it began to rot. Even as it rotted its beauty could be seen.
Now unrepairable cracks have developed, it cannot hold water. Its function is lost in its beauty.
Although a new tea table will replace this one, this one will never be replaced. Perhaps one will use it for a flower pot, in this way it will continue to nurture life. Or, perhaps one will bring it out once in a while, on rainy days, its leaking puddles mirroring nature outside.
Either way it's time for a new tea table...