There is so much joy in learning a new word.
I even have a list of words that I classify as “want to use this some day when the time is right” on a white board in my office—words like excrementitious, fantasmagoria and
flibbertigibbet add a jazzy little mojo to life, in my opinion.
So every now and then I’d love to introduce you to a joyful new word I’ve found. In addition to enabling you to impress your friends with your extensive vocabulary, and expand your horizons as you live out its meaning, this week’s particular word is just fun to say.
Today, my friends, we are going to learn about wabi sabi: a Japanese concept that finds beauty in imperfection and impermanence. Wabi refers to the kind of beauty found in asymmetrical, uneven or unbalanced things. Sabi is the beauty of aged things and speaks to the impermanence of life through the passage of time.
So you can experience wabi sabi in a couple ways:
1. As a design concept (as in a rusty old hammer that you love because it belonged to your grandfather, or a lopsided piece of pottery your child made long ago), or
2. As a way of life. Valentina Marin says that to live wabi sabi can mean to embrace change, fleetingness, and imperfection as a source of beauty, wisdom, and growth. We often speak of the “ravages of time”; we are conditioned to resist aging and seek eternal beauty and youth. Time does not wreak havoc—time shapes works of art and gives value to both objects and people.
I learned this at a high school class reunion in a most unexpected way—and I think that, after listening to this episode, you’ll want to live yourself some wabi sabi too!
Envato. “Design and the Japanese Art of Wabi Sabi.” Envato Blog, February 14, 2014. https://www.envato.com/blog/japanese-art-wabi-sabi/
Marin, Valentina. Whole Being Institute. “4 Ways to Practice Wabi Sabi, the Japanese Art of Happiness.” https://wholebeinginstitute.com/4-ways-wabi-sabi-happiness/
Roberts, Gretchen (Whole Living). “Wabi Sabi Your Life: Six Strategies for Embracing Imperfection.” December 19, 2019. https://www.marthastewart.com/2225027/wabi-sabi-strategies-tips