When you hear “Wabi Sabi” you probably think of the little mound of green fire that comes with your sushi. [Actually, that’s wasabi.] “Wabi Sabi” a philosophy combined with a style that is worth considering. It is often equated with the design trend called “shabby chic” but that term conveniently leaves out its soul, as North American trends so often do. In “Wabi Sabi-The Art of Everyday Life”, author Diane Durston draws on her eighteen years of living and studying art in Japan to explain what Wabi Sabi is.
Durston writes that “Wabi” is many things but it is often translated to mean “tranquil simplicity or imperfect or irregular beauty.” It is a state of mind. “Sabi” is considered to be a “beauty that treasures the passage of time, and with it the lonely sense of impermanence it evokes.” In the West, “Wabi Sabi” has been defined by Leonard Koren, as the “beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.”
This is not only true for design but for our lives and souls. If you tend towards perfectionism, as I do, Wabi Sabi has something to teach us. It tells us that imperfection has its own beauty and that striving to be perfect, has the opposite effect; we become boring, restrained and fearful… and we never get it perfectly right.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet.” Our soul’s imperfect beauty cries out to be appreciated and valued. We are perfectly imperfect. We might even say that we are all Wabi Sabi and to bring Wabi Sabi style and philosophy into our lives reflects that and reminds us of our beauty- something we too easily forget.