Every now and then I come across a concept that I find so incredibly meaningful, and when I do, it fills me with pure joy because my heart recognizes it as truth. I discovered Wabi Sabi, the ancient Japanese aesthetic philosophy rooted in Zen Buddhism a few years ago, and I’ve viewed things differently ever since.
The definition of Wabi Sabi, described perfectly by, Leonard Koren, the author of ,”Wabi Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers.” He states: “Wabi Sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, the antithesis of our classical Western notion of beauty as something perfect, enduring, and monumental.”
Here are some examples of what Wabi Sabi is to me:
~The wrinkles around a person’s eyes as a result of years of smiling. I call them happy marks.
~The handmade bowl (with the lovely unevenness), that my daughter made me in elementary school.
~The pairing down of what I no longer need, want, or use, and then giving those things away.
~The asymmetrical vegetables that I hand pick at the market.
~The painting of a florescent orange vase with blue, purple and green flowers that my son made for me when he was ten and that hangs proudly in my house.
~My favorite cup with the tiny piece missing out of the rim.
~My Grandmother’s rocking chair because of the creaks, and worn spots where she used to rest her arms while sewing little dresses for my dolls. I’ll never have that chair redone.
In our quest for perfection and simplicity, something integral is missing from the equation. We are groomed to look, perform, and purchase what society dictates. This comes with a price tag. Impossibly higher standards than the average person could possibly muster, with caring for family, career and having a meaningful life. How about another way? The way of embracing imperfection and acceptance for the transitory nature of life. See beauty in your own way. Value what you already have. Look at things differently. You really can.
Simplicity is not perfection. It’s the shedding away of the unnecessary and loving what’s left.
Wabi Sabi is a practice and a different way of looking at things. A new approach, if you will. It’s about letting the imperfection of our lives and our bodies not be hidden. Rather, embracing those imperfections as our own. What could be more radically simple than acceptance of ourselves and our lives.
Nothing lasts forever, so treasure what others may perceive as “flaws.” Because you know better. Life is imperfect.
Below are some of my book recommendations.
Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by: Leonard Koren
Wabi Sabi: The Art of Everyday Life by: Diane Durston
Living Wabi Sabi by: Taro Gold
Wabi SAbi Simple: Create beauty. Value Imperfection. Live deeply. By: Richard R. Powell