As I shared a few months ago, I didn’t have an overarching plan for this blog series. I had a handful of meaningful (to me) posts that were the seeds of the idea, and the rest of the time I have been filling in with posts that I thought were along the same theme or at least somewhat thought-provoking.
Today’s post from 2014 is one that made my short list of meaningful posts. As a recovering perfectionist and certified overachiever, the idea of Wabi-Sabi has helped me to find peace by accepting my own limitations and imperfections and leaning into the natural rhythms of life. My hope is that it blesses you and encourages you to see the beauty and meaning in the imperfections in your own life.
If it can be over-thunk, I am the girl for the job.
Several months ago my still-life photography guru, Kim Klassen, shared a lesson in wabi-sabi. If you are as clueless about this funny sounding word as I was, Wikipedia describes it as:
A comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
As wabi-sabi pertains to photography, it is finding beauty in the imperfect…things that might not, at first glance, be considered beautiful. And let me tell you, I royally sucked at this one. Only I could spend an hour looking for the ‘perfect’ wabi-sabi specimen. Which is exactly what wabi-sabi ISN’T. #mylife
At any rate, now that I’ve had some time to ponder and practice this concept a little more, I think I understand it a little better. I still couldn’t tell you exactly what it means, but I think wabi-sabi (as it relates to photography) is like the beauty of oak-leaf hydrangea flowers that are way past their prime. Wabi-sabi is worn, vintage glass bottles. Wabi-sabi is a
rickety charming old chair with peeling paint.
If you were to extrapolate this design aesthetic into our homes, wabi-sabi could be described as those parts of our home – the character of our home – that tell the story of where we live and who we are. For me it is is creaky wood floors and dirty french doors covered with doggie nose prints. It is my grandmother’s set of china and my granny’s dusty shadow box.
The more I have gotten comfortable with the concept of wabi-sabi in my life, the more I think that the Japanese have totally hit the nail on its rusty head with this one. And as a woman living in a culture that delivers magazine covers with perfectly styled homes or cover models that have been botoxed and air-brushed to death, the idea embracing imperfection is refreshing. That something could be accepted – no…prized! – for its flaws is utterly inspirational. For me, wabi-sabi has taught me a lot about self-acceptance…finding beauty in my laugh lines, my few extra pounds, my stretch-marks and my soft belly.
But the real reason I love the wabi-sabi life…it’s because that is where grace lives.
I do not understand the mystery of grace…only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.Anne Lamott
I do not have to be perfect for God to love me. God’s grace is right here in the middle of the cat hair and my overflowing laundry baskets. My undone to-do lists, my dark circles, my sometimes journey-weary soul.
I am so thankful to have been liberated from the notion that only my “good”, pretty work glorifies God. Because the truth is that God’s grace is better reflected in my messes and failures.
…my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.~2 Cor 12:9
I’m learning to live in the peace of knowing that even with all of my imperfections, I can still make art with my life.