I believe that one’s physical surroundings can be a reflection of one’s state of mind and, at the very least, creates subtle reactions (for better or worse) that we may not be aware of. In my case, a messy and chaotic space typically makes it difficult for me to concentrate on a task. I start to feel restless and uneasy. To be fair, I happen to be a virgo, and my perfectionist tendencies may play a role in this. However, the deeper essence of this seems to go beyond obsessive neatness and cleanliness.
I’ve been think a lot lately about constructing a Japanese-inspired garden just off the deck of my house. I recently visited a Japanese garden in Nashville a couple of months ago, and I was moved by what I found. Generally, when I imagine what a garden looks like, it has splashes of bold colors and fantastic shapes everywhere. Every spot is a feast for the eyes, but in the case of a Japanese garden, the aesthetic is centered around composition and form. There are no bold colors. Instead, a tapestry of organic textures that incorporate small leafy trees, stones, and woodwork abound at lower and higher elevations.
The space literally melted my face.
Beyond its appearance, the way the Japanese garden made me feel is what truly struck me. The subtle nuances in the design gave me a feeling of calm and a sense of piece. It felt like the kind of place where I could be alone with my thoughts. I beheld a physical stage for the mind in which the internal version of me could roam freely in the open air.
A narrow path wound its way around bunches of tall and wispy bamboo trees whose leaves rustled gently in the wind. Smooth round stones that softly reflected the sunlight gathered in pools around small trees. Hills rolled softly above manicured stretches of grass and sand. There was a tenderness to the place that felt pure but unassuming.
It got me wishing that more of the world felt like this.
I have started to think more expansively beyond a Japanese-inspired garden. I now aspire to create spaces that invoke a feeling of calm and are a forum for introspection. My car, bedroom, bathroom, studio workspace, and all of the spaces in which I dwell would be part of this effort. I am not aiming to simply have a clean and orderly environment. I desire spaces that feel organic, earthy, and balanced in the same ways a Japanese garden simply exists in these ways.
My journey toward living in calm and organic spaces has only begun. I will be writing more about this as I move forward. I’ll be collecting stones, plants, fabrics, and wooden forms while I clear out possessions that are unnecessary and do not give me joy.
I want to design spaces for myself that feel restorative and cultivate a sense of peace.
This is a journey I need to take.