Excerpts from Just Push Play-on Midlife
You wont find Wabi-sabi in botox, glass and steel skyscrapers, smart phones or the drive for relentless self-improvement. It’s a beauty hidden right in front of our eyes, an aesthetic of simplicity that reveals itself only when animated through the daily work of living. Wabi-sabi is everything that today’s sleek mass-produced, technology- saturated culture isn’t. Its flea markets, not shopping malls, aged wood, not swank floor coverings, one single morning glory, not a dozen red roses. Wabi-sabi understands the tender, raw beauty of a grey December landscape and the aching elegance of an abandoned building or shed. It celebrates cracks and crevices and rot, all the marks that time, weather and use leave behind. To discover Wabi-sabi is to see the singular beauty in something that may first look decrepit and ugly.
Wabi-sabi reminds us that we are all transient beings on this planet- that our bodies as well as the material world around us, are in the process of returning to dust. Nature’s cycles of growth, decay and erosion are embodied in frayed edges, rust, liver spots. Through Wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace both the glory and the melancholy found in these marks of passing time.
Crystal first introduced me to Wabi-sabi. It came to her while writing this book. I like to think of Wabi-sabi in my daily life, especially when I’m in my garden.
When you hold a freshly picked heirloom tomato in your hand, ripened by the late summer sun, it is deliciously imperfect in its appearance. Often misshapen, under or over sized, with cracks and seams and blemished skin. Its deliciousness is waiting for those who venture past the imperfections. Mother nature does not grow things perfectly, including us.
Yet what is natural and normal is the antithesis of our North American consumer driven youth obsessed culture. We willingly pay to be injected, frozen, peeled as if a shinier tighter version of us would make us more acceptable. As the Midlife disrupters we are giving you permission to reject the idea that your beauty is fleeting and in need of improvement. In fact, your appearance is only enhanced by embracing the worn and aging parts for the deep resonate beauty they evoke and admitting you are nothing but imperfectly perfect.
Bringing Wabi-sabi into your life does not require money, training or special skills. It takes a mind quiet enough to appreciate muted beauty, courage not to fear bareness, willingness to accept things as they are- without ornamentation. It depends on the ability to slow down, to shift the balance from dong to being, to appreciate rather than perfecting.
You might ignite your appreciation of Wabi-sabi with a single item from the back of your closet, a chipped vase, a faded piece of cloth, a worn stone. Look deeply for the minute details that give it character, explore it with your hands. You don’t have to understand why you are drawn to it, but you do have to accept it as it is.
Consider the musty-oily scent that lingers around an ancient wooden bowl, the mystery behind a tarnished goblet. This patina draws us with a power that the shine of the new, does not possess. Our universal longing for wisdom, for all things genuine, for shared history, manifests in these things.
If enjoyed reading about Wabi-sabi, you will resonate with Chapter 8, The Pillar of Perfection, in our book Just Push Play- on Midlife.