Simply stated, wabi-sabi refers to a Japanese world view that embraces and finds beauty in life’s imperfection and transience. This kind of philosophy sums up how I feel about not accepting the world’s pressure to be perfect. I’m a “cracked plate,”a failed ponytail, and a lopsided cake. I don’t believe advertisers’ lies that say that beauty is defined by a woman’s slender hips and perfect make-up or a man’s thick hair and perfect pecs. As Robert Herrick once observed in his poem “Delight in Disorder,”
“A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me, than when art
Is too precise in every part.”
Since I lead a sorta careless and crooked existence, I have the frequent urge to declare, “Wabi-Sabi!” in my daily life:
As I look at my backyard and notice that the weeds outnumber the blades of grass,
As I hurriedly pull on tights just minutes before hurrying to a dress-required affair and I notice a thigh-high hole,
As I’m handing out the semester exam I spent 3 hours and 17 minutes typing using the “hunt & peck” finger method and I see that the word “How” is typed twice on the last question on page 2,
As I lovingly hold my momma’s favorite coffee cup with the small chip on its floral base,
Mess-ups and crack-ups and even fuck-ups do not a disaster make!
That deep scratch on the right back corner of Grandma’s antique end table does not diminish its beauty or value. That scratch is where my younger sister suddenly dropped a brass bud vase when she had a grab a watch battery from my one-year-old niece’s little fist on its way to her mouth one Christmas Eve.
When I practice acceptance over perfection, I am so much more in tune with this very messy life.