“Wabi-sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.”
The traditional Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi has always appealed to me. I’m drawn to simplicity that has a rawness rather than a polish.
But it’s so easy to get seduced by ‘perfection’.
So easy to tap into a feed of glossy, perfectly styled, masterfully edited imagery. My masses of ‘inspo’ photos for the house go from refined to rustic and raw. Some scream perfection, others are all about restraint. I have to keep perspective.
Every day its clear that my reality is more raw than refined, this is a village project after all.
Working with raw, imperfect materials brings a slow pace to the day. I love it.
The hours and hours of work, by hand, has brought me huge amounts of simple joy. I have endless patience going through the tangled pile of coffee wood until I have a selection suitable for each ‘wall section’ of the bathroom and kitchen. Each of the 500 pieces is different in size, with knots, forks, each one wanting to go in its own direction. The crew can’t believe how slow and patient I am. (I’m well known for my quick pace and constant productivity).
Some days ‘inspo’ and ‘reality’ are so far apart.
I have to think quickly to come up with alternative solutions on the spot or just dig in with my own hands and knowledge to show how it can be done. Wabi-sabi isn’t an excuse for poor craftsmanship.
Often all that is needed is restraint, taking the time to find the best way to use the raw materials rather than blindly following a plan.
Wandering around a few weeks later, I can see the wabi-sabi way, reminding me to find the beauty in the imperfect more often. Every small idea has turned into something better than I ever imagined by letting in the ‘imperfect’.
Inspired, I do some further reading on Wabi Sabi. It seems to be the right time. This gets my attention….
“Wabi-sabi represents a precious cache of wisdom that values tranquillity, harmony, beauty and imperfection, and can strengthen your resilience in the face of materialism.
It gently motions you to relax, slow down, step back from the hectic modern world and find enjoyment and gratitude in everything you do.
Put simply, wabi-sabi gives you permission to be yourself.
Embrace the perfection of being imperfectly you.”
So here I am, imperfectly me… wrinkles, frizzy hair, happy on my fave worn out imperfectly lovely wicker chair.
*This is an excerpt from a series of stories about my time as a ‘tamu’ (foreigner) building a house in a small Balinese village. I’ve written them to remind myself that creating new chapters in life comes with angst, excitement, fears, laughs, exhaustion, tears, failure, success and the power of friends and family. Currently I have a mess of half written thoughts amongst daily journals and loads of photos…. I’m a work in progress…