Life threads: Wabi-Sabi.

If I don’t grasp too tightly, I am occasionally able to pick up on theme ideas that run through my life at any given moment, memes if you will for the present, concepts that might be useful, beautiful, or even just interesting for me where I am at.  Right now I’m hearing quite a bit about wabi-sabi, “a beautiful Japanese concept that has no direct translation in English. Both an aesthetic and a worldview, it connotes a way of living that finds beauty in imperfection and accepts the natural cycle of growth and decay.”

I had never heard of this concept before a couple of weeks ago when I first encountered it in an article in Parabola, a lovely magazine I picked up on a whim at Common Good Books (and may now purchase a subscription to).  And apparently it’s a children’s book as well.  Providing an intriguing counterpoint to other articles on perfect shapes in nature and relativism in perception of beauty in art, the article in Parabola on wabi-sabi integrated a unique idea of beauty that arrives with time and use.

Wabi-sabi reminds me of ‘busage’, actually.  Beauty through usage, a concept used in the bicycling world that often refers to things like worn Brooks saddles and old steel frames and ragged bar tape.
While wabi-sabi is far from the stainless steel aesthetic that has infected American design standards, it does fit neatly into a new paradigm of consumption that is espoused by simplicity advocates and antique dealers alike.  Love the functional, the ancient yet sturdy, the worn with careful use.  As Benjamin and I begin thinking about a house and a life together, I want to keep wabi-sabi at the forefront of my vision, a light that can puncture through the plastic world of planned obsolescence to help me create a beautiful, functional home.

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