Flawed Beauty: Wabi Sabi

August 11, 2012

Flawed beauty.

I knew a woman who was a weaver. She created stunning works of fiber art on her loom. And yet, not one piece was “perfect”. Each and every one had a repaired thread, a knot where a string had broken, a spot where the dye didn’t take in the yarn, a misread of the pattern: something. She never stopped to fix the errors. This artist commented that some of her contemporary weavers would tell her with much seriousness that she should “fix those mistakes to make the piece perfect instead of flawed.” She would shrug her shoulders and just say “I don’t worry much about perfection…..I think these pieces are richer┬ábecause they remind us that none of us are perfect.”

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Most of us don’t like those words or their meanings.

“Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.” ( from Wikipedia)

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. (Wikipedia) Those are interesting concepts for our American society and way of thinking.

“Wabi-sabi is exactly about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get from freedom from things.” Leonard Koren

You have some wabi-sabi somewhere in your life. Where is it? What is it? Do you accept it or are you embarrassed by it?

I believe we could all benefit from embracing the idea of wabi-sabi in our lives and let go of the illusion of perfection.

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