I’ve always been very careful to keep my kitchen tidy, with matching cutlery (you can ask my kids!), china and glasses, nothing chipped or too worn. It has always seemed to me to be the right thing to do, and I have taken pride in laying a nice table for breakfast or dinner. Yesterday, Etsko showed me a video clip describing a Japanese concept called wabi sabi. You can Google it to get the exact description and the interesting history of it, but in short, I’d describe it as celebrating the perfect imperfection. It really made me think and reflect on how I see things in life, including my “perfect” kitchenware.
Wabi sabi thinking is that when something has been lovingly worn and broken, mending it carefully without trying to hide it is to celebrate its true beauty. Imagine for example a loved coffee mug whose ear accidentally gets broken off when it is being cleaned. Instead of throwing it away (which I undoubtedly would have done any day before yesterday), the ear is glued back on, and the joint is painted in a pretty colour that marks the crack. The mug lives on, even more, beautiful and loved.
I find that this way of thinking really can make a difference in life and expanded to so many things! How about “imperfect” weather on your holiday? Celebrate the rain and enjoy your holiday just as it is. Or what about when having a bit of a headache, as I do right now? I can either curse and be disappointed about not feeling “perfect” (which would astonishingly be my expectation) or I can relax and give myself a break, sit with the computer on my lap on the couch and ponder wabi sabi…it’s not that bad.
Submission to the situation
There is an element of acceptance, or submission as we call it within Care & Growth, in wabi sabi. See things as they are, be grateful for what they have given and given, and submit to the situation as it is. There is something very beautiful in that and it also takes a lot of pressure off.
It is exhausting to strive for perfection! There is no rest in perfection and very brief moments of fulfilment. What if we stop striving for perfection in everything (including ourselves) and are more accepting instead? I bet that would lead to less judgement and less expectation in the process, too!
For starters, striving for perfection means we must identify what “perfect” means. Otherwise, how are we going to strive for it? The first example that comes to mind is our bodies. It is astonishing how the definition of “perfect” has differed in history and still changes (faster and faster, as it seems). Shape, size, colour, hairstyle, body hair, facial features…there is no end to it. The fact that what is seen as “perfect” changes makes it obvious how subjective and shallow it is. And, striving for that kind of “perfect” is not just tiresome, it’s hopeless and leads to even more dissatisfaction. And still, we try and work very hard at it.
So what do you strive for now?
When we had watched the video clip on wabi sabi yesterday, I said half-jokingly to Etsko: “But what are people going to do if they stop striving for perfection in everything around them, in their spouses, in their houses, in their fitness, in their looks, in their friends, in themselves…what is everyone going to do with all their time?”
Etsko didn’t continue the joking note, he just looked at me calmly and said: “How about enjoying life?”
Yes. How about that. Let enjoying life be how we spend our time, celebrating it as it is, perfectly imperfect. It’s certainly worth a try.
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