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.

24 responses to “Waaabiiii Ssssaaaabiiii…stretching an idea too far?

  1. I don’t think you are stretching the definition, that is wabi-sabi! And it is so true what you say about the person’s house, just like any hotel room can accomodate anyone. It is the vision of the designer.

    When I was a little girl (2 years old?), my family took me to a house like that with glass figurines. After being told not to touch the ten-thousandth item, I went insane and grabbed a pillow to help redecorate the place. Before I destroyed anything, my parents dragged me out. I think they laughed the whole ride back. Your home is meant for humans, not lifeless mannequins, and that makes it better than any old designer house.

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  4. You’d love my house! It’s wabi-sabi at it’s best, and you’d have to be blind to not know what we’re all about, haha! πŸ™‚ I know those houses you mean… Southern California is filled with homes like that, and they never cease to weird me out. I know, it’s not a very nice feeling to feel since they probably spent copious amounts of money and time on getting it so perfect… but it doesn’t feel like a home, just a house. I love your take on this! Thank you for adding the wonder that is you to Prompts for the Promptless!

    • I bet I would love it – I can’t imagine you hiding yourself carefully out of sight πŸ™‚ I feel guilty too about my reaction – the owner is a nice friendly person, and definitely does have a personality and interests, but you’d never be able to figure out what they are from seeing where she lives. Thank you!

  5. I have a set of slightly mis-shapen earthenware wine goblets which I love because of their imperfections. I refere to them as my Wabi Sabi goblets and when I get home from work there is a “wabi of wine” waiting for me. I think it is a wonderful concept.

  6. A home should have a live in feel. If that is absent then it ain’t home.

  7. Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog, so I thought I’d come by and see you too! I would like to very much own a wabi-sabi home and I think I am getting there. I would hate for my home to be show home where ‘Through the Keyhole’ would get nobody nowhere. Our walls when I moved in were already painted a nice cream colour so I decided to paint the bathroom door a nice purple. Bright purple. The best purple you could find and accent our bathroom with purple things – I love it. My husband warmed to it. The mother in law hated it! Haha

    • Thanks for visiting here! Cream and the brightest bright purple there is – I love it. (And I can just imagine your husband getting his first look, before he warmed to it πŸ˜‰ ) Anyway, what I don’t understand is why the people who go to the trouble of having show homes want them that way. Well, not my problem!

  8. Our house definitely says who we are and what we’re interested in, even though the realtor said I should take down the set of horns in the front hall in case an animal lover was put off by them. πŸ™‚ What your post reminded me of is the pictures in the magazines where everything is perfect and in the bedroom, there’s a fur coat lying gracefully across the bed. Yeah, my house looks like that all the time. I had a relative when I was young who had all her living room furniture covered in plastic, so that it wouldn’t get dirty, and all the children had to go in the basement (which was actually more fun than sitting on that plastic!) Give me a living home! And don’t even get me started on homes where I don’t see a book or magazine in the whole house!!!

    • Oh, yes, I remember that post of yours! I’ve heard people talk about “staging” a house when you’re trying to sell it – apparently the idea is to make it look just like a furniture store display. So boring.

  9. you’re house sounds like my house.

  10. Pingback: Prompts for the Promptless – Ep. 2 – The 11th Possibility | rarasaur

  11. Lots of people describe my house as ‘lived in’ πŸ™‚
    To me that means they have seen the doggy footprints all through it
    ong live Wabi-Sabi!

  12. I’m sure you have a real lived in home with character and easy style.

    • Thanks, Gilly – that’s what I want to have. Trouble is, at this point it’s a little too lived in – it really does need to be better organized (that is, basically, very much less cluttered)! πŸ˜‰ But I really don’t want to go all the way to “generic stylish interior-decoratored”.

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