Wabi-Sabi

Dear Pogue,

You remember that letter I recently sent you on heroes and antiheroes? I trust you read it? Well here’s a thing, our letter once again found its way to other people and one of those people was sufficiently absorbed by the contents to actually write back. Surprised? I was. The correspondent was a Mr Ohh and the gentleman (we’ll give him the benefit of any doubt) wanted to suggest that antiheroes bring us hope in so much as they overcome their flaws to achieve the deeds they do.

Good point, hey?

This caused me to recall a concept that exists in Japanese culture termed wabi-sabi (where’s he going with this I can hear you thinking). Wabi-sabi is the belief that beauty is found in the imperfect. Indeed it believes that nothing is perfect, everything is part of the circle of life, either becoming or decaying, all comes from dust and will return there. It finds beauty in the imperfections of life, charm in the flaws of things. To my mind it does away with the need for perfection and so removes the stress and pressure that we so often impose on ourselves. It releases each of us to find contentment.

Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

Richard R. Powell

In this I find I am able to agree with Mr Ohh and his suggestion that the antihero overcomes his or her flaws to prevail. It’s not that they are able to put away such flaws but rather that each and everyone of them is able to accept their flaws as part of what they are and in doing so find freedom to do the greater deed. And how many people have you come across who never reach this point but rather spend an inordinate amount of time battling to overcome this failing or make that perfect in order that they can move on to higher things? At this point I would interjected that there is a time and place where certain flaws, character traits, need addressing. Antisocial behaviours, things that bring hurt to others, self destructive behaviours. But that’s not what I am trying to get at here. No, it’s more about those every day things that remove joy from life. The things that tell me I need to be other than I actually am, that give me an image that I need to achieve if I am to be happy.

Is wabi-sabi a belief and life approach that you and I need to consider, maybe should embrace? I’m thinking, if we could bring it into our lives and integrate it into our world view, would it bring a degree of peace and serenity? Would it enable us to see a world of beauty we may be missing? You see, I want to suggest we are inhabiting a world where acceptance of things, of ourselves, is not promoted. Goodness me, what would become of the beauty industry if we were able to accept ourselves as we are? What would happen if it became ok to grow old and have wrinkles. To go from blond to silver? If we began to see it all as another expression of the beauty that pervades in our imperfect lives? Do you know there are cultures that honour ageing? Don’t tell anyone I told you that, I don’t want some cosmetics multinational knocking on my door!

What if we choose to abandon the achievement of the unrealistic goals set before us and seek to accept what we are? If we decided not to be focused on the continual rhetoric of betterment that surrounds us day on day. Maybe all take a day, a week, a month, however long, to seek out the beauty where we are at this present moment. Is that mindfulness? Getting the most from what we are, what we have, now?

I understand that I am a work in progress. I am no longer beating myself up for past mistakes and my imperfections. I forgive myself and everyone else. I am free, grateful and present. I surrender to divine timing. Everything is unfolding exactly when & how it should.

Lukasnotes

Imagine applying wabi-sabi to our antiheroes with an acceptance of their flaws, their brokenness and allowing this to frame the act of bravery, the striking out, making these acts the more profound because they come from imperfection.

In Japan, those practicing wabi-sabi will honour aged and damaged objects. They have history. They tell a story. These objects, if damaged, will be repaired in such a way to turn the damage to something of beauty. Cracked pottery will be repaired with gold lacquer giving impressive golden veins. The imperfection has been embraced, accepted and highlighted to give a uniqueness and a beauty that didn’t previously exist. A very different approach to our throw away culture where character objects cost a premium.

When I wrote my “Beautiful Soul” post another blogger commented that for her “there are plenty of beautiful souls out there – they may be flawed and have an odd imperfection…but they are growing…and will be made more beautiful” and she had a good point. If the flawed pottery can have its flaws used to make it more unique and desirable so our imperfections can be allowed to give us uniqueness and character.

Imperfection is a form of freedom

Anon

We must learn to accept ourselves for who we are and reject a world view that encourages, no, sells perfection. Accept ourselves? Easier said than done. I know, because we’ve been sold the need for improvement most of our lives. But by being able to accept who and what we are now we can live in this moment and not be continually looking to the future. And, more, we can experience peace and serenity because the pressure will pass away.

Wabi-sabi, a valuable concept?

Yours, from a zen state,

Wic.

5 thoughts on “Wabi-Sabi

  1. I love this post. So very true. ‘I am perfect in my imperfections’ comes to mind.
    Flaws certainly can give way to an indescribable beauty. It’s difficult for us to accept our own, and we all struggle against our own imperfections for the most part.
    If the focus on our flaws is shifted to the growth part of our souls and minds, it can produce a beauty that defies explanation.
    I love the Wabi-sabi concept. Thanks for sharing it. I’ll take it 😉

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on nopassingfancy and commented:
    Absolutely loved this post, and the food for thought and concepts contained within it.
    Hope certainly can be the result of seeing people who have embraced their flaws, grown through them, and managed to achieve despite them.
    May you all be inspired today, and feel beautiful inside and out.

    Like

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