A Lesson in Imperfection: Wabi Sabi in Your Space
The “Perfect” Fallacy
Many of us have been brought up with rigid expectations of striving towards the ever-elusive idea of ‘perfection.’ We have all heard the common phrase, “practice makes perfect,” and might all be guilty of trying to move towards this unrealistic and unattainable ideal at some point in our lives. This relentless pursuit of perfection, however, can often lead to emotional, mental, even physical harm. Wabi Sabi can teach each of us the power of embracing the mundane, and help us lead our lives with more ease and grace.
A prominent teaching of Zen Buddhism is reverence for the motions of everyday life and embracing the simplicity of passing time. Wabi Sabi embodies this teaching to show us that our manifestations of imperfections are both meaningful and beautiful.
Wabi Sabi is a Japanese concept and philosophy that can be loosely defined as, “rustic simplicity” or “taking pleasure in the imperfect.” Wabi denotes simplicity, and can encompass both things that are naturally made and made by man. It represents beauty in the accidental happenstance of the everyday. Sabi, meanwhile, means “the bloom of time.” Sabi points towards the understanding that beauty is fleeting, and that it is natural to age and grow old. Together, Wabi Sabi represents a sustainable and spiritual connection with transience and imperfection.
Sustainability and Mindful Consumption
Bringing Wabi Sabi into your home will serve as a kind reminder to be content with what you already have, without constantly yearning for more. It is a strong antidote to our societies built on disposable, mass-produced and trendy goods and combats the ecological toll over-consumption has taken on our planet. At large, it seems that many are awakening to the vast number of ecological issues we are facing. Wabi Sabi is a great way to embrace conscious environmentalism.
While reusing, repairing, and upcycling what you already have is an effective means of putting Wabi Sabi philosophy into practice, mindfully purchasing pieces that beckon to the integrity of natural objects will also inspire your home. In total, Wabi Sabi is highly sustainable and encourages us to be mindful about what we want and what we actually need.
Wabi Sabi in Your Space
Wabi Sabi aesthetics often appear as raw, cracked, asymmetrical, and rough as they are reflections of our natural world. Usually, these imperfections are highlighted with gold accents to praise the faults instead of hiding them. Pieces constructed or “repaired” with Wabi Sabi modalities embrace the transience of the natural materials they are constructed with.
If you have been inspired to embrace Wabi Sabi in your home, look to nature as your guide. Seek out thoughtful pieces that use natural elements in their construction. A handcrafted cement decorative bowl in your home’s entryway may be the daily reminder you need to release your own expectations of perfection. Or perhaps, a thoughtfully constructed table lamp on your nightstand to light the pages as you reflect in your journal is a better fit for you. Regardless of how Wabi Sabi manifests in your space, by implementing this lifestyle and belief system, you will be divinely reminded of your own beautiful imperfections and transient nature.