Ask a Westerner to define wabi sabi and you will either get a blank stare or a quick and short answer. The first response is probably more correct. In America, the term wabi sabi has come to mean beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.” In Japan, the term has a deeper meaning. Perhaps the best way to explain it is to use examples:
- An old wooden barn that is weather-worn and starting to fall apart is wabi sabi, a shed made of sheet metal is not.
- A pine tree, growing on the side of a mountain -twisted and turned by the winds, scarred from lightening - is wabi sabi; a perfectly pruned hedge is not.
So as you can see, wabi sabi carries a little bit of melancholy with it. Wabi is from an ancient root word meaning sad, desolate, and alone. Sabi can be interpreted as the appreciation of age or the “bloom of time.” It is understated, quiet, and involves time and patience. Wabi sabi involves the natural cycle of birth, growth, and decay. It does not involve the impatience and the drive for perfection demanded from the human ego.
Learning to incorporate the idea of wabi sabi into our life can be very beneficial. Instead of fretting over everything that is wrong and imperfect in our lives, we can learn to appreciate things as they are. While being active and participating in life, we can be patient and allow time to work it's wonders. Life itself is birth, aging, and finally death. Along with that comes love, joy, hardship, failure, knowledge, strength, and wisdom.
Below I've included more ideas for incorporating wabi sabi into your life.
Wabi sabi your home by furnishing it sparsely with gently used furniture and decorate with casual items that have deep meaning to you. You'll find that you are more comfortable in a home that reflects who you are as a person. As time passes let your home reflect the changes in your life. View it as your refuge instead of a show-room.
Instead of stressing or worrying over the signs of aging such as a few crows feet around the eyes, appreciate them as signs of the passages of life endured and enhanced with deeper understanding and knowledge. A touch of gray brings distinction and dignity.
Dan provides ideas for meaningful living at: ZenPresence.com.