Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect.
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Wabi Sabi is the ancient Japanese wisdom of finding beauty in imperfection and simplicity in nature, of accepting the natural cycles of growth, decay, and death. Enjoying the simple, natural, and uncluttered, Wabi Sabi reveres authenticity above all. It celebrates cracks, chips, and other marks of time, weather, and use. Once we see the beauty in such “deficiencies”, we can learn to embrace the flaws—the wrinkles, rust, and frayed edges, and all the imperfections in our lives.
Wait! Don’t let the philosophical nature of this topic keep you from reading about something that can immeasurably enrich your life right now. Wabi Sabi, art of the authentic, natural, and imperfect, can bring joy and meaning—and yes, happiness—to our everyday lives. There’s more to this…and as you peel away the layers of meaning, you will find more that Wabi Sabi can give to your life right now.
Where is Wabi Sabi?
It’s easier to see Wabi Side in things. Although Wabi Sabi is an intangible appreciation and awareness of the impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete nature of existence, it is easier to grasp with things such as old photos, heirloom Christmas ornaments, a rusty metal gate, a weathered barn.
This part is spiritual essence of tranquility, simplicity, and humble freedom.
This has to do with time passage—weathering, tarnish, rusting, patina.
It is about beauty that comes with age. (You can’t buy these things new in a shopping center.)
How to Be Happy
So what does Wabi Sabi tell us about how to live? Developed from Zen Buddhism, Wabi Sabi is a path to enlightenment. It is a practice, a lifestyle of living modestly, simply being satisfied with what is.
People who live a Wabi Sabi life come to a gentle acceptance of the imperfection in their lives. They accept the mistakes, the disappointment, the broken promises. And even eventually, if lucky to live long enough, they accept the liver spots, the gray hair, the wrinkles. They see the beauty even there. They embrace it all.
Finally, it is about us. We are all imperfect. We are all flawed. Being human, we strive to live up to our expectations. Then we fall short. We make mistakes. No one is perfect. We are as we are.
We wish our circumstances were different—a better job, more money, a different partner, fewer problems. But this is our real life. It is what it is. And yet, nothing is permanent. This is just what’s so.
Now, go and be happy.
More examples of Wabi Sabi:
Rusty keys, hardware, and tools
Beat-up, used furniture
Worn-out pair of jeans
An old stone house
A doll with her arms loved off
Loon out on a lake
Gong and its fading tone
Beams of sunlight in a gray day
Snow, rain, hail
Handwritten note in the mailbox
Japanese tea ceremony
Seeing beauty in the impermanent
Practice making the unwanted wanted
Incomplete, (such as knowledge always is)