Surrendering to a Wabi-Sabi Life

Wabi-Sabi—Appreciation of the Imperfect and Impermanent
You are looking watching the big harvest moon rise in the September sky. You remember seeing this special moon–as big as your head–when you were a child and asking if this moon was the bigger brother of the regular moon. You smile at the recognition of the wonder of this moment.

MoonThat fragile moment of recognition is part of the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi– the beauty of things impermanent or incomplete. It contains a profound appreciation for things modest and humble. As an aesthetic, it honors things imperfect and impermanent.

A Different Approach to Success and Abundance
Wabi-sabi is the release of control. It avoids beating up the creative soul for not achieving perfection. Recognizing and embracing our imperfections allows room for growth. The only result of demanding perfection is certain failure. Perfection is impossible, and while we live in a culture that loves people who are “passionate” and “give 110%,” we seldom feel passion for our daily lives, and it is impossible to give more than all. Perfection is a cruel boss. It leads to giving up, depression and anger rather than eagerness for growth and improvement.

Standing up for yourself, from Annie's Ink.

Standing up for yourself, from Annie’s Ink.

Living a wabi-sabi life means letting go of the stress of competition, relentless achievement, and replacing them with a willingness to let life find its own pace. It allows for space to trust that opportunities will appear, and a willingness to let the world unfurl without having full control over every activity. It is a life stripped down to what is valuable, rather than randomly acquired. It is not living without, but rather within.

In a wabi-sabi life, you recognize all things are impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete. Once you open the door to imperfection, a creative force rushes into your life, making it possible to risk, to try different solutions, to explore your creativity fully. Which leads to living a creative life–work and business combine to create a full, rich and abundant life.

How to Live a Wabi-Sabi Life
One of the hardest things to do is live in the moment. We are always planning—what to have for dinner, what time to pick up the kids, what to do if that promotion doesn’t come through.

We live our lives in the past, reviewing our mistakes, and in the future, planning

From Lady Employed, in a post about standing up for yourself.

From Lady Employed, in a post about standing up for yourself.

on contingencies and how to handle what will happen next. The current moment is empty as we rush to control—ourselves, our lives, the lives of our children. We try to control our creativity, what we make, even our intuition.

Certainly planning helps organize our time and leads to action. But when we begin to plan for every possibility, guess at every motive, fill every second of the day with planned activities, meetings and obligations, we exhaust ourselves and our families.

We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Often we can’t influence the future. What we think of as failure is simply a lack of knowing. You don’t always have to know. And you don’t always have to be in control. Take off that heavy obligation of knowing and controlling and take three deep, slow breaths. Then decide right now. In this moment. To live and grow. And leave perfection behind. And let creativity take root in your life.

—Quinn McDonald is renewing her determination to live a wabi-sabi life.

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8 thoughts on “Surrendering to a Wabi-Sabi Life

  1. Such calming wisdom. The idea of not pushing to compete and let the world settle, settle into the pace of living each day, each hour. Yes to this kind of living.

  2. Life does require a certain amount of planning and intention. Back in the 60’s “hippies” were rampant and living the life of free choice and love. Some ran to that lifestyle and some ran away, others shamed it and some dreamed of living it. It opened up a new way of living and thinking. But it wasn’t wabi-sabi for sure…too political. It did create a new process of thought regarding the earth and raising our children and
    relationships. It was a time of growth.
    Now fifty years later we live more intentionally but with the influence from that time. Many folks have “slowed” down their lives and take time to appreciate their families and live more closely with mother nature. The
    social swing is to have a garden, recycle, to live more simply. In that there
    are more wabi-sabi moments.
    I am packing for a trip. I’ll be gone from my home for a while. It requires planning and scheduling but I also have to continue to pick the cucumbers and tomatoes until I leave. That’s when I find the quiet moments, when the day is almost done and there is more quiet than noise. My wabi-sabi. And I just might be able to get one of the grandkids out there to help me. Perhaps they’ll find their wabi-sabi moment too.
    Thanks for the reminder, Quinn.

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