WABI SABI: The Art of Embracing Imperfection
“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”
― Brené Brown
There is a Japanese philosophy called wabi sabi, which values simplicity and authenticity. Wabi sabi is an acceptance of the old, of the worn, of the asymmetrical. It is a rejection of the lavish, opulent, and excessive. It is about simplicity and modesty. In wabi sabi, you understand the three qualities of life: that everything is impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete. Instead of wrestling with these thoughts, wabi sabi embraces them. Basically, wabi sabi espouses the philosophy that nothing is finished, nothing is perfect, and life rarely works the way we hope it will.
According to Japanese legend, a young man names Sen no Rikyu sought to learn the elaborate set of customs known as the “Way of Tea.” He went to tea-master Takeeno Joo, who tested the younger man by asking him to tend the garden. Rikyu cleaned up debris and raked the ground until it was perfect and then examined the pristine garden. Before presenting his work to the master, he shook a cherry tree, causing a few flowers to spill randomly onto the ground. Rikyu then understood the fleetingness of perfection.
In my grief, I examine the wabi-sabi in my soul. The scars of grief are imprinted in my psyche. I am aware of the pain of these scars, but I am also learning to look at them with new eyes. My essence may be beaten and eroded by grief, but it is an indication of a journey — of a life that is full of striations of pain, and tread marks of heartache. Rather than cover up or fill in the nicks in my soul to make it perfect, I am trying to examine and cherish these scars as part of my journey toward restoration. I am desperately trying to find the silver lining in my loss. I know I can’t mend the broken pottery that is my loss, but I can look at it, study it, and hope to find beauty in the imperfection, that is my life now. I am using my own Waze app to direct me out of the traffic jam of unhappiness and find my way back to a renovation of my soul.
When Peter died, I could have turned hard and brittle, but I chose to embrace the hand that was dealt to me and use my writing to help myself and others. Wabi sabi has taught me to value life in a different way. Through the wabi sabi philosophy, you see the fleetingness of life and ergo, find that you can respect each moment, and cherish each second. Since everything is impermanent you can see the worthlessness of material things. But I have also discovered that though life may be imperfect and fleeting, love is the one thing that lasts for me. I have Peter’s soul beating in my heart, and though he is not here physically, I feel his heart beat with mine, giving me the courage to move forward.
“Are imperfections is which make we grate.”
― Craig Benzine