Chasing after perfection is a perfect way to drive yourself crazy. Or at least, to become deeply disappointed -- since perfection doesnt exist.
Not in people, for sure. And likely nowhere else, either.
Yet religions hold up perfection as an attainable ideal. For example, they speak of having perfect faith, as if this was possible. And I'm well aware of Eastern religions that consider a perfect living guru is the next best thing to a perfect god.
So when I heard about a book that describes the wisdom of embracing imperfection, I immediately ordered it.
I'm just a short ways into "Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life" by Beth Kempton. But I've read enough to know that I'm going to enjoy the book.
Here's some excerpts from the first chapters of Wabi Sabi. Almost certainly I'll have more to say about the book as I get further into it.
Almost without exception, conversations I have had with Japanese people on this topic have begun with: "Wabi Sabi? Hmmmm... It's very difficult to explain." And the truth is, most people have never tried to articulate it and don't see the need to do so. They have grown up with it. It's how they navigate the world and appreciate beauty. It is built into who they are.
...In slowly peeling back the layers of mystery, this is what I have come to understand: the true beauty of wabi wabi lies not in things but in the very nature of life itself.
Wabi sabi is an intuitive response to beauty that reflects the true nature of life.
Wabi sabi is an acceptance and appreciation of the impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete nature of everything.
Wabi sabi is a recognition of the gifts of simple, slow, and natural living.
Wabi sabi is a state of the heart. It is a deep in-breath and a slow exhale. It is felt in a moment of real appreciation -- a perfect moment in an imperfect world. We can nurture it with our willingness to notice details and cultivate delight. And we experience it when we are living the most authentic, most inspired versions of ourselves.
It's about experiencing the world by truly being in it rather than judging it from the sidelines. It's about allowing strategy to give way to sensitivity. It's about taking the time to pay attention.
The principles that underlie wabi sabi can teach us life lessons about letting go of perfection and accepting ourselves just as we are.
...Wabi sabi is a feeling, and it is intangible. One person's wabi sabi is not the same as another's, because each of us experiences the world in different ways.
We feel wabi sabi when we come into contact with the essence of authentic beauty -- the kind that is unpretentious, imperfect, and all the better for that. This feeling is prompted by a natural beauty, that which is austere and unadorned.
...Put simply, wabi sabi gives you permission to be yourself.
It encourages you to do your best but not make yourself ill in pursuit of an unattainable goal of perfection. It gently motions you to relax, slow down, and enjoy your life. And it shows you that beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places, making every day a doorway to delight.