Wabi-Sabi and Other Things
I recently read Wabi-Sabi For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren. I zoomed through the book while staying in Joshua Tree, in between work and activities, in one day. I was already familiar with wabi-sabi as an aesthetic, but I didn’t fully know about its history or the depth in which it can permeate the spiritual or intangible world. In the beginning of the book, Leonard writes: “Wabi-sabi can in its fullest expression be a way of life. At the very least, it is a particular type of beauty.” I felt an overwhelming sense of synchronicity and thought “yes, this, in a sense, is what I am trying to teach.” What I love about wabi-sabi is that it embraces the irregularities, the oddities, the qualities that society may deem as “ugly” - and observes the beauty in these characteristics - essentially by practicing mindfulness and observation.
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
“In wabi-sabi, there is no ‘valuable,’ since that would imply ‘not valuable.’ An object obtains the state of wabi-sabi only for the moment it is appreciated as such. In the tea room, therefore, things come into existence only when they express their wabi-sabi qualities, Outside of the tea room, they return to their ordinary reality, and their wabi-sabi existence fades away.”
Think of yourself as the tea room. You are imperfect. Your objects are imperfect. Your relationship with your objects is as such - imperfect. It just is. You are the one who gets to implement this way of life. You create the energy in your home, in your objects, in your relationships. In wabi-sabi “every single object seems to expand in importance in inverse proportion to its actual size.” If we create a relationship with our objects in this way, we will require less because we will be fed more by what we do have. I like to think of this as “cherished detachment.” We get to appreciate and love our things, while knowing that they do not make us whole, but aid us in our quest to living mindfully.
“Things wabi-sabi are appreciated only during direct contact and use; they are never locked away in a museum. Things wabi-sabi have no need for the reassurance of status or the validation of market culture.” Use this as your guide. There’s no need to have a storage unit or a closet full of unnecessary items that we may someday use (and probably never touch). I want to get rid of this model entirely. When acquiring objects, forget about what’s trending or new or cool. Go with what speaks to you, in your soul. You can tap into your intuition by really getting into your physical body in order to be more in touch with what you are naturally dawn to. Seriously, meditate before you shop. Get grounded. Close your eyes. Imagine your feet are on the dirt or in the sand. Take deep breaths (as many as you need). Do this before stepping foot into a store, before looking for items, and let your body guide you.