Wabi Sabi is the Japanese aesthetic and living philosophy that states there is beauty in imperfection, impermanence and incompleteness, what author Leonard Koren* describes as an appreciation of unconventional beauty and “a state of grace arrived at by a sober, modest, heartfelt intelligence.”
Here then, in the desire for wholeness, lies paradox. The brain and the heart in collaboration with grace. Beauty equals imperfection. In my own life, creativity requires not regular hours but whatever I can glean from a life full of other loves. The light that guides us and heals us appears from the midst of hurts and traumas and the wildly varied vicissitudes of life. A full life, an expansive life, is found in the smallest of details, the hidden places, the curiosity and persistence to stare and wait for the gifts that will, in time, emerge.
A mindfulness that embraces all aspects of self and other is a wisdom of wholeness. No piece of ourselves can go missing without it being felt as a dissonance, an emptiness, a pull of the heart or mind or both. In this spirit of fullness lies the freedom of spaciousness, profound reserves of energy, the calm of compassion.
And like all things that make life worthwhile, it takes practice. I played the cello from the age of eleven until I was sixteen. I just turned fifty-seven. I plan on playing again, this time with that modest, sober, heartfelt intelligence that will transform into the grace of imperfect, beautiful music issuing from my fingers at some undetermined and surprising age—keeping me in tune with the ongoing, emergent nature of this humanness with which I’ve been blessed.
In this new year of 2010, wishing you all the joy of wisdom found so very near—within one’s self.
**from Leonard Koren’s book, “Wabi Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers”