Liver Spots, Rust, Frayed Edges: Do You Savvy Wabi-Sabi?

You really do learn something new every day. The only questions are, was it worth learning and can you apply it?

As one of the blessings of the work I do, I often learn 10 or 20 new things a day, some of which actually stay with me long after that particular assignment is said and done.  Here’s something I came across in the course of writing today–the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi. Key ideas:

“[Wabi-sabi] nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”

Pared down to its barest essence, 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. Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent.

I like it. As opposed to the more Western concept of striving for perfection, Wabi-sabi recognizes the inevitability of imperfection, but tells us that our efforts may nonetheless be admirable and aesthetically satisfying.

More on the idea here and here. Skittering around the Web, you’ll also find a number of Wabi-sabi blogs, many suggesting that blogging itself is an inherently Wabi-sabi activity.

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