Daily Archives: February 25, 2013

Waaabiiii Ssssaaaabiiii…stretching an idea too far?

Do you ever have trouble thinking of your next post? Never fear, the friendly dinosaur who posts as Rarasaur has started a new project – Prompts for the Promptless – to suggest ideas we can all play around with.

The prompt of the moment is “wabi-sabi”. Wabi-what? It’s a Japanese concept, or type of art, or approach to life: finding beauty in the simple, the flawed, the damaged, the impermanent. Flower arrangements; rustic pottery; the tea ceremony.

Anti-wabi-sabi, then, would be perfection. A few months ago I visited someone whose home came about as close to perfection as you can reasonably get – everything was new and sparkling and tastefully coordinated. It was beautiful, but after half an hour or so it made me uncomfortable. I found myself thinking “Whose house is this, anyway? Anybody could live here. It’s as if the owner wants to keep her own tastes and interests hidden.” (This was probably an unfair reaction, but it’s how I felt. As I say, the house was lovely; it was just that it was also completely impersonal.)

Now, I’m in the middle of reorganizing my home. But what am I really trying to accomplish? Not sparkling perfection with a mirror surface that reflects back the visitor’s own face and hides mine. No, I’ll try for something flawed and changeable and a little impromptu, with miscellaneous books shelved all over the place and food cooking in the kitchen and probably some knitting in progress lying around. Something organized and clean, but well-used.

It’s not the tea ceremony. It’s probably pushing the concept way out of its true shape. But it’s what real-life wabi-sabi means to me.