Last week someone told me about Wabi-sabi, a Japanese phrase. In a nutshell, it’s complicated. Wabi-sabi is the idea that there is perfection in imperfection… beauty in the most unassuming places. A flower missing several petals is imperfect and beautiful. A home that is tidy, clean and shabby is more welcoming and wabi-sabi than a house that is modern, sterile and cold.
“Wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It’s simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all…”
Pronounced “wahby-sahby”, it rolls off the tongue easily.
My body is wabi-sabi, for sure. It works pretty well most of the time, but there are definite outward imperfections if you use the Western definition of beauty. The gray hair, laugh lines and sagging skin that belie pregnancy and childbirth are dead give-aways that this body has seen better days. And yet—there is certain perfection in an aging body that has experienced time and weathered elements both internal and external. Beauty comes from the scars that prove fortitude, stamina, breadth, depth and life. A twisted pine tree that has withstood decades of wind, rain, snow and sunshine is more beautiful in its bent asana than a perfectly straight sapling that has yet to be tested.
Relationships can be wabi-sabi as well. A mother-child relationship is perfect in its construct, but imperfect in its execution. People are dynamic, organic beings that are riddled with nuance that wind up frustrating, hurting and healing, sometimes all at the same time.
When two people butt up against each other and engage in a push-pull dynamic that challenges perceptions and forces them to grow, they have climbed to the next level of their own evolution. A person then has the opportunity to look deep into the shadowy confines of their soul and embrace an aspect of self that heretofore was inaccessible. A relationship that allows strengths and weaknesses room to breathe in close harmony is one that reveres wabi-sabi. There is perfection in imperfection… we are all imperfect creatures. That is what makes us beautiful.
There is much wabi-sabi in my life; moments of imperfection, and absolute beauty and awe. I have found a certain peace in acknowledging my imperfection, and embracing it as beautiful.
Words have been hard for me lately, and I have decided that the lull in writing is wabi-sabi. I don’t always have to be a certain way. As a tree bends with the wind, so do the seasons of my creativity. To always be constant and unerring in my productivity is detrimental to my evolution. I have given myself a break by not pushing through a time when quiet and solitude has felt more nourishing than loquacity.
So to you, dear readers and friends, I wish you a weekend of wabi-sabi. There is imperfect beauty in striving, resting and acknowledging consciousness. Happy Sunday, y’all.