In today's environment, where persistent dissatisfaction, burnout and anxiety reign supreme, the pursuit of perfection has become the norm. We have held ourselves to unattainable standards and rigorously chase an ideal that’s impossible to reach. We aim to imitate the sublimity of a lifestyle ideal because social media is a place where perfection characterizes most of its substance. We find ourselves unconsciously devoting all of our energy to achieving the ideal, constantly posting pictures and videos to show the world that we do fit in. Comparing ourselves to others and feeling imperfect according to society's standards is becoming almost inevitable.
But this whole philosophy isn’t only Impossible and exhausting to pursue, it’s also unnatural as far as the Japanese worldview of Wabi Sabi is concerned. Wabi Sabi is a Japanese concept for which Western languages have no direct equivalent. The term "Wabi Sabi" describes the sorrow, imperfection and beauty of the transient. It comes from a respect for what is slightly fragile, a little broken, and modest rather than a love of youth and perfection. According to this Japanese concept, something's beauty is constantly enhanced by its age and distinctiveness.
The first emergence of the Wabi Sabi concept was in the 15th century through the tea ceremony. The tea masters found beauty, meaning and history through imperfect, rustic and old tea bowls. The flaws were considered to give more character and story to the ceremony. Wabi Sabi was also mainly influenced by Buddhist philosophy. As Buddhism itself relies on simplicity, appreciation of the present moment and mindfulness, the Wabi Sabi concept resonated on a deep level with Zen Buddhism and many Zen monks found inspiration in the Wabi Sabi approach to life. The concept has also developed through art and aesthetics, as many artists embraced the beauty of imperfection.
The embrace of imperfection is one of the pillars of this beautiful concept and it is important that we see it as a self-improvement journey that is done within reason and without the goal of perfection. The problem in seeking perfection or even a closer path to it in Wabi Sabi is that we resist the darker sides of life that withhold us from truly experiencing life. In fact, the resistance to embrace life with its flaws and imperfections leads to dissatisfaction since we refuse to come to terms with the reality that life is inherently flawed and that nothing, we cling onto remains the same. Existence has no standards and nature is meant to be wild. So are we. According to Eihei Dōgen, a founder of the Soto school of Zen Buddhism, “One must be deeply aware of the impermanence of the world”. In other words, one should be conscious that ageing, damage, asymmetry, death and so on are all intrinsic parts of nature that should be embraced.
In Wabi Sabi, imperfection can be embraced and seen in anything, in fact, it helps to see the real beauty of things. We may embrace imperfection in our living spaces by adding things like handcrafted furniture, vintage furnishings, and earthy hues. Wabi-Sabi inspired homes appreciate asymmetry and the individuality of each object rather than striving for completely symmetrical layouts. Living spaces are made more hospitable, soulful, and evocative of the rustic attraction of the natural world thanks to this design philosophy. Personal relationships can also be seen and examined under the magic of Wabi Sabi, in fact accepting our flaws and those of others helps us grow in self-acceptance and compassion. Finding meaning in every event, including the difficult ones, is made possible by realizing that life is a journey that is constantly evolving. Wabi-Sabi teaches us to embrace the peculiarities and vulnerabilities that make each individual unique and to respect the complexity of human nature.
Wabi Sabi is at one level an idea that relates to pottery, drinking tea, and the history of Japan but on another, it’s actually a life lesson for all of us during modern times. It’s a gentle reminder for us to celebrate the beauty of life as it is and our beauty as well. As we adopt Wabi-Sabi into our lives, we discover how to give up the chase of perfection and celebrate the genuine, honest, and once-in-a-lifetime moments that give life its true beauty. And most importantly is that the appeal of this idea is in its accessibility since everyone may practice it and benefit from its transformational powers, making it a useful and applicable tool for people from all areas of life.