Every year, the Emperor of Japan chooses a theme, or Chokudai for the year. Many artists create works of art, tea utensils commemorating the theme for the year. For 2014, the theme is shizuka. It will be interesting to see what artists come up with for shizuka.
My dictionary defines the word as calm, quiet, still, tranquil, placid, silent, peaceful, serene, gentle, and soft. Like many Japanese words, it is hard to find an English equivalent word that conveys the sentiment and meaning of it. Especially in our culture, which seems to favor action words. The more contemplative words seem to get a more negative connotation, such as “placid,” which is defined as serenely free of interruption or disturbance.
In the modern world, we live in a “noisy” environment. Smart phones, TV , radio, telephones, youtube; everything seems to be tugging at our attention. We need to be up to the minute in monitoring what is trending on Twitter, or what is posted on facebook, instagram, pinterest. There is an ever increasing cacophony in our lives.
Without constant distraction, we begin to see what our lives are really about. Without distraction, we have the time to reflect and think deeply about things. Without distraction we can face ourselves honestly. Perhaps that is why there is a rise in popularity of things like yoga and meditation, where we pay attention to our bodies and our thoughts.
For this year, shizuka is a good theme for me. A reminder this year to spend time calm, quiet, still. To bring tranquility, peacefulness and serenity into my life more consciously everyday.