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