While we all have heard the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” isn’t it funny how many of us look for perfection in so many things? From finding that perfect home, perfect car, perfect mate, or perfect job, people always seem to be striving for perfection, especially in our Western culture. The Japanese however, have a different concept in regards to beauty and perfection—wabi sabi, or “imperfect beauty.” So what exactly is wabi sabi?
According to the article, The Wabi-Sabi Self, by Jessie Sholl, “Wabi Sabi has its roots in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony and is sometimes explained by using the example of a well-loved teacup, made by artist’s hands, cracked or chipped by use.
Such traces remind the observer that nothing is permanent—even fixed objects are subject to change.”¹ The cracks and chips are seen as an asset and are prized, instead of making the cup seem, old and broken. Author, Leonard Koren, tells us that “wabi sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, the antithesis of our classical Western notion of beauty as something perfect, enduring, and monumental. Some examples would be an asymmetrical heirloom vegetable, crow’s feet, frayed sleeves of a favorite sweater, exposed brick, variations in the grain of wood or stone, or a first draft of a book.”²
In the United States, most of us have grown up in a world of ideals with the media constantly influencing our thoughts of perfection. We strive for the best job, ideal body, perfect weight, etc., and often times, if we don’t have them, or can’t achieve them, we beat ourselves up, sabotage our well-being, or cause ourselves and others, unnecessary stress. While we all have things that we don’t like about ourselves, many of them are things that we can’t change, like big feet, curly hair, a large framed body, or wrinkles. We need to remember instead what Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art,”³ so embrace your laugh lines! They are a snapshot of joy!
I recently finished writing a book. This was a new endeavor, so while I was excited and inspired, I also felt a little overwhelmed at times and had some anxiety during the undertaking. After the editing process, I still noticed some errors and kept beating myself up, trying to get the book and layout just right. After awhile, I realized I could make changes forever, but even some of the best books out there aren’t perfect and contain mistakes. While oversights can happen, it doesn’t make the whole book or project bad. It just shows our human side. So I sent my book off to print, realizing it was my first book and probably wasn’t perfect and probably never would be. I reminded myself that it had a lot of useful information and a good message for us all, which is why I wrote it in the first place. It’s called Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living and can be found on Amazon. I hope you check it out.
Here is the link.
Maybe we should all embrace a little Japanese wisdom and let some of our desires for perfection go. After all, what is wrong with being more authentic and accepting ourselves and the things the way they are? Choosing a wabi sabi life might just make us all a little happier.
Thanks for reading!
¹ Sholl, Jessie. “The Wabi-Sabo Self.” Experience Life. January/February 2014.
² Roberts, Gretchen. “Wabi Sabi Your Life: 6 Strategies for Embracing Imperction,” Whole Living. October 2010.
³ Sholl, Jessie. “The Wabi-Sabo Self.” Experience Life. January/February 2014.