Hawaii, with its Asian influence, has afforded many deep insights into finding peace and happiness within. A concept I heard decades ago has crossed my path half a dozen times this year: Wabi Sabi. A friend just sent me Arielle Ford’s book Wabi Sabi Love for my birthday and I was reminded to share this.
Wabi Sabi is a Japanese concept of celebrating imperfection. It’s the imperfections in ourselves and our objects that tell our stories. There’s no real excitement or intrigue in a perfectly straight line or an unlined face. Ultimately, imperfections make a person or thing far more interesting than perfection does. In our Plastic-surgery-botox culture, we forget that we earned those expression lines.
Wabi sabi embraces the impermanence of life and of material things. Humans are fragile creatures on a very short trip to earth; we constantly change and grow… And no one gets out alive. To look through a Wabi Sabi lens is to see beauty in asymmetry. When I took a class in Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) the first thing we learned was to strive for an odd number of flowers.
Embracing our imperfection is the only way to grow. We begin to understand and know ourselves through our relationships with others. If we are unrelenting in our search for perfection, we push some of our very best teachers away, as no one can be perfect. My secretary Kate used to call these people our “sandpaper people” — the ones who force us to face our frailties and whittle down the rough edges.
Let’s face it, we humans are scarred creatures. The very act of living can be a wounding experience.
And yet it’s our scars that tell our stories. The wrinkles on our face and body show the paths of our journeys and give us places to connect in intimate ways with those we care about. When we are open and accepting of imperfections in our self and in each other, we open doors to magnificent and deep love. Our scars let our beloved into our world so they can understand us better and love us for who we are and who we are not.
Those who have lived their lives striving for perfection and who have taken no risks in life or love have few scars. They stayed on the surface of the water and usually are not very deep. These folks go through life pretending instead that everything is always sunshine and happiness, all the while struggling with an undercurrent of despair because it just isn’t. Life is not an even road.
Life is not an even road.
An unscarred “perfect person” may be shallow and unforgiving of others’ frailties. Those who have been tossed about by life have learned lessons and can consciously choose to be more forgiving, more tolerant of imperfection, and indeed, celebrate those imperfections.
“I don’t love you because you are perfect. I love you because your imperfections are beautiful to me in the stories they tell me about your character, your life, your struggles, your journey, and your triumphs.”
Go out into the world and be your beautiful, wonderful, imperfect self!
© 2013 Beth Terry, CSP All Rights Reserved
He sat on the sidelines watching bemused as we whirled and twirled to the live country music. Wizened and slight, he had to be in his mid-90’s. His eyes twinkled as he studied our steps. When the band stopped and canned music played a slower two-step, he pulled to his feet and took my hand. I was surprised how spry and strong he was. I had a fleeting thought, “It’s awfully close to St. Paddy’s day. You don’t suppose he’s a leprechaun?” (The older I am the more I realize I don’t have a firm grasp on the mysteries of life.)
While dancing he would falter and I’d hear him mutter to himself. Listening closer I heard, “Best you can… best you can.” Walking with him back to his perch I asked him to explain. He said, “When I was a pup, my dad said the only way you learn anything is to accept that you’re doin’ the best you can. Then work on gettin’ bester.”
Gettin’ bester. I love it.
If you’re struggling with something new, or frustrated with your current situation, just do the best you can and work on getting “bester.” It really doesn’t do us any good to beat ourselves up. Just notice what doesn’t work and fix it. Or decide sometimes “good enough” is just good enough.
I’m thinking of printing a little reminder and posting it somewhere:
Best You Can…
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
© 2013 Beth Terry, CSP • All Rights Reserved
Henry Ford had an opinion about that…Food for thought:
None of our men are “experts.” We have most unfortunately found it necessary to get rid of a man as soon as he thinks himself an expert because no one ever considers himself expert if he really knows his job. A man who knows a job sees so much more to be done than he has done, that he is always pressing forward and never gives up an instant of thought to how good and how efficient he is. Thinking always ahead, thinking always of trying to do more, brings a state of mind in which nothing is impossible. The moment one gets into the “expert” state of mind a great number of things become impossible.
- Henry Ford, Sr.
In my business we have now been told the federal government won’t approve funding at conferences or meetings for a “motivational speaker.” But they will fund a “subject matter expert.” Now most of us haven’t called ourselves “motivational speakers” since Saturday Night Live comedians started bashing that title and diminished it’s street cred. But still, if Henry Ford is correct, it would seem the government might want to revisit their requirement of the term “expert.” Then again, that’s expecting logic from an illogical body.
Enjoy your Day, and keep smilin’, it throws people off.
© 2013 Beth Terry, CSP • All Rights Reserved
MYTH: “The World Is/Should Be Fair”
This idea gets in our way and blocks forward movement.
No. The world is not fair.
The world is only FAIR in that it is governed by a set of natural laws. For each action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Here on planet earth, there are consequences for behavior. Gravity does not care who you are, how much you make, or what you wear. If you step off a cliff, gravity may take your life.
Perhaps the greatest hoax perpetrated in the general population and exploited by advertisers, politicians, and others seeking to manipulate us is our childhood fantasy of FAIRNESS.
Life is not Fair
Not only can things never be completely fair, we would lose all interest and motivation if they were. The inherent “unfairness” of the human condition motivates us to do and be better. Our drive to better our situation and best our adversaries can make us better human beings and in the end bring happiness. There is no sweeter feeling than figuring something out, or accomplishing a task that had eluded you before. Video gamers know this. The quest to get to the next level is frustrating and then exhilarating as each level is reached.
Experiments in Fairness
When I was in the 5th grade, our teacher decided football and cheerleading tryouts weren’t FAIR. She decided anyone who wanted to be a cheerleader or play on the team could – AND they would all be out there at the same time! Lovely concept. On paper. Even at that tender age we were upset. We all looked forward to the tryouts. We were getting together and practicing routines. The boys were bulking up and practicing their throws.
Our first game was a joke and we knew it. There weren’t enough jerseys or helmets for all the players to be out on the field simultaneously. Plus it broke the rules of football. And, since there was no competition, the cheerleaders stopped practicing routines. On the field the cheerleaders got in the way of the football team, and the players weren’t sure who was doing what, since having a “captain” wouldn’t be FAIR.
The players knew they could play whether or not they showed up to practice. Our opposing team, from a less “FAIR” school, beat the pants off us. The referees were frustrated with all the extra bodies milling around. And we were the laughingstock of our little town.
“Fairness” only created Failure and taught an unrealistic view of the world
The attempt at fairness only meant one thing – instead of a few people needing to work harder to be on the team next year, we were ALL losers. Well, that’s even… but is it fair?
Utopian idealists want to flatten the landscape, yet it’s the drive to climb Mount Everest that has challenged generations to become better than they are. The drive to compete in the Olympics, the drive to run faster than others, the drive to become healthier, to invent a better widget, to hone your skills, to be more at peace… All these are borne of inequalities and unfair situations: each a lesson in itself. A test of our strengths and a telegram notifying us what we need to work on.
So what can you do?
Acknowledge that things aren’t “even.” Acknowledge that some people are more beautiful, slimmer, have straighter teeth, were born into a family that took financial precautions or taught them to be better at managing money. The Universe gives us all something great and something to work on. Assess your own strengths, assess the challenges and solutions, and deal with it.
Don’t waste your energy trying to force the world into a false utopia where all is “fair.” That is a waste of your time time and denies the unique and wonderful gifts you have.
As Mark Twain said, “it’s the differences that make a horse race.”
Isabel Briggs Myers (creator of the Myers Briggs Indicator™) said, “Each of us are equipped for different parts of the world’s work.” Maybe we came into Life to learn a lesson, maybe we didn’t. But we were endowed with something to share and room to grow.
Harness the power of your differences and create your own happiness. Self-Esteem and Self-Respect are Self-Induced. Those people you envy are struggling with their own hidden issues. Their success is not your failure.
It often seems every time the “it needs to be fair” crowd gets their way, Fairness isn’t the result. Leveling the playing field to the point that everyone loses isn’t fair, either. Instead Chaos and Injustice take hold and often make things worse.
To your mental, emotional, and spiritual health!
© 2013 Beth Terry, CSP. Phoenix, AZ. All international and domestic rights reserved.
Little Alisha wanted to know how old I was, so instead of asking directly, she crawled up on my lap on the swing and asked me, “Aunty Beth, how many Christmases have you had?” When I told her, she thought about that for awhile, then asked, “Well, how many do you get?”
Out of the mouths of babes…
If we think of our age or the future in terms of years, it seems a long time. Taking an event that happens once a
year, however, changes the dynamic.
Many years ago I was struggling with some personal issues and didn’t feel like decorating the house for the holidays. It seemed to be such a waste of time and energy. You decorate only to undecorate a few weeks later. For what?
Then a friend who was a chef at a local restaurant was stabbed to death by one of his workers. I thought about his family and the families of all the people who had lost someone during the year. I wondered if they would have done Christmas differently last year had they known it was their last one together.
I summoned up all my holiday spirit and decorated the entire house. We never know when it is our last one. Funny, decorating the house lifted me out of my funk and gave me quiet pleasure every night when I turned off all but the Christmas tree lights and the little light behind the manger scene.
If you slept in a warm, dry bed last night, you are blessed. If you had food in your cupboard this morning, you are blessed. If you have at least one person who loves you and misses you if you aren’t together, you are blessed.
Celebrate the little things. They are the building blocks of your life. Remember those who went on ahead of us, but don’t pine for the past or worry about the future. We have these holiday breaks in our lives to Remember Who We Are, and to celebrate the light that surrounds us.
© 2012 Beth Terry Seminars, Inc. All Rights Reserved