“Usefulness is not impaired by imperfection. You can still drink from a chipped cup.”
~ Greta K. Nagel
Wabi-sabi means to appreciate or see the beauty and harmony in imperfection and simplicity. It originates in Japan, where artists will often leave a crack in a piece of pottery or a flaw in the design of a kimono as a reminder of the wabi-sabi nature of life. Wabi-sabi recognizes that all of life is in a constant state of change, and that decay is as much a part of life as growth.
“Wabi-sabi is a concept that originated in sixteenth-century Japan with the tea ceremony, a ritual that provided a way to step out of the chaos of daily life and reconnect with that which was simple and tranquil,” says Diane Durston, author of Wabi-Sabi: The Art of Everyday Life and curator of culture, art, and education at the Portland Japanese Garden. “Through the centuries wabi-sabi came to mean an approach to life and art that is in harmony with nature, one that values the handmade and rustic and that recognizes the impermanence of life. It encourages us to be respectful of age, both in things and in ourselves, and it counsels us to be content with what we have rather than always striving for more. It’s a hard concept to define in words, because it’s about emotion as much as philosophy. Wabi-sabi has a hint of wistfulness about it.”
Lori Erickson wrote in her article called The Joy of Imperfection, which appeared in Woman’s Day Magazine, “Not long ago, I realized something as I stood in front of the mirror. Even if I squinted hard, even if the light was just right, even if I was wearing make-up and a flattering outfit, no one was ever going to mistake me for a sweet young thing anymore. I saw that the lines around my eyes didn’t disappear when I stopped smiling. I admitted that I was the sort of woman who looked perfectly at home in a mini-van. And as I stood there, contemplating the changes that had somehow snuck up on me, at first I felt a twinge of sorrow for my lost youth (Where did it go? Where did I go?) — and then I began to appreciate how wabi-sabi my face looked. The concept of wabi sabi is one that I think every woman (and man) should have in her mental bag of tricks, particularly after time’s winged chariot has pulled into the driveway.”
Photo by Matt Hoyle
Here is an artistic video about wabi-sabi
Take a look in your space right now. What do you see that you would consider wabi-sabi?
Take a look in the mirror. What do you see? Do you immediately see flaws and tend to criticize your appearance? Or perhaps you like what you see and look at yourself with love and acceptance.
Does the idea of looking at yourself and life with a wabi-sabi philosophy that there is great beauty in imperfection change anything for you?
“The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.”
~ Alden Nowlan