Monday Musings: Wabi-sabi Life

The maple tree in the backyard has just now started to drop its leaves. I love this tree. It’s at least 50 years old (give or take), with thick bark and a chipmunk hole at its base. It’s a little lopsided from where some dead branches had to be removed a few years back.

Looking up, the tree looks absolutely perfect, covered in a mix of gold and orange leaves. But if I look closer at each leaf, I see flaws. A torn edge here. Brown splotches there. The perfect leaf is elusive. But together, up in the lopsided tree, they look gorgeous. Not perfect, but absolutely beautiful nonetheless.

Wabi-sabi is the Japanese concept of finding beauty in imperfection. It recognizes that not only is perfection an illusion, but imperfection has its own beauty that is to be valued and cherished for its own sake. My maple tree is without a doubt a wabi-sabi tree. Nature is like that: imperfect by exacting technological standards that measure the world to the nanometer, but with fierce beauty and wildness that renders human abstractions irrelevant.

The whole idea of wabi-sabi really resonates with me (aside from it being just a fun word to say). It encourages me to not only accept the so-called imperfections of life, but to revel in them, and hold onto them, turning them over and over in my mind until I see the beauty that is already there, unrecognized.

The hours that make our days may seem filled with frustration, disappointment and minor annoyances when we look at them with an eye for every detail, but take a step back, and look at the years, the decades… Like my lopsided wabi-sabi tree laden with splotchy leaves, the beauty comes when we look at the whole, and take in the picture of amber leaves against a clear blue sky, take in the entirety of a life. See the big picture.

Wabi-sabi life.

About Rebecca

Natural spirituality writer, deep thinker, mom of 3, adjunct professor, resident of Earth
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7 Responses to Monday Musings: Wabi-sabi Life

  1. Debra She Who Seeks says:

    Wabi-sabi also celebrates the beauty of aging and decay, which is something we need to learn how to do in a society and culture that values only youth and vitality. Whether it's an appreciation for imperfection, aging or decay, the principle of wabi-sabi has so much to teach us.

  2. plaidshoes says:

    I love this concept. My daughter tends towards perfectionism, which ends up in frustration. I will bring this idea to her. (She also loves foreign words, so this idea has many positives ;-)

  3. Shari Cartmill-Frost says:

    I love this blog. You rock~

  4. Rebecca Hecking says:

    Awww… thanks Shari! :-) And plaidshoes, I love the word too. Say it a few times fast!

    Debra, I wasn't aware of this aspect of wabi-sabi. It meshed perfectly with the season (esp. Halloween), doesn't it??

  5. Richard D Shelmerdine says:

    What an interesting concept. I haven't heard of it before. I wrote a post on "Spirituality for a genius" over at my blog. It's nice to see someone else writing on spirituality with success too.

  6. Rebecca Hecking says:

    Richard, can you post a link directly to the post? Thanks.

  7. theosophy-teachings says:

    Nice blogging on spirituality the theosophy and the spirituality are the common things for self enlightment and to know the self.
    Theosophical teachings , Articles, theosophy definition by HP Blavatsky, Raghavan Iyer, William Q. Judge, Robert Crosbie, The Secret Doctrine , Isis Unveiled

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