Future Imperfect

January 07, 2011

Reading this post reminded me of a concept I’ve heard about that comes from Japanese culture: Wabi-Sabi. To sum it up in a rather general way, wabi-sabi is the art of finding and honoring beauty in the imperfect.

Now this is a concept I can get behind! I love the look of old and imperfect things. I buy distressed furniture, partly because we tend to distress things ourselves even if they don’t come that way, but also because it appeals to me. I find old pieces with a few battle scars much more appealing than something brand new and sleekly perfect. However, wabi-sabi is more than a design aesthetic. It’s a whole outlook on life, an outlook that “[acknowledges] three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect,” (Richard R. Powell, Wabi Sabi Simple).

Wabi-sabi doesn’t just put up with imperfection—it embraces it. That’s a good thing for all of us. I’m guessing you’re not perfect—I know I’m not. When I find myself bogged down in the same old issues, now I see I need to go beyond accepting that I’m imperfect all the way to loving my imperfections. This really goes against the grain for those of us in a culture that believes all personal faults should be eradicated immediately, if not sooner.

Perfect doesn’t exist. Imperfect—with all its glorious faults and detours and mistakes-that-turn-into-blessings—does. So today, let go of one thing you’re still a perfectionist about. Examine and embrace the flaws you see. Let the beauty of wabi-sabi wash over your life.

To learn more about wabi-sabi, go here.

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  1. Kathy,

    Even if nothing is perfect, I think you just about spelled this out perfectly. :>)

    Have a wonderful weekend,


  2. Cool post...thanks! I love wabi-sabi, but I didn't know it was called that.

  3. Kelly--Sshh...I had to look the name up using Google! I remembered the concept, but not the technical name.

  4. "...all the way to loving my imperfections."



    Hmmm, this will need processing!

    (LOVE the post, the concept and several of your comments!)

  5. Laure--yeah, the LOVING part is what gets me. I'm not quite there yet.

  6. I guess I'm Wabi-Sabi. Lots of stressed marks on this old body. lol

  7. Hi,Jeanne--I hear you! I just wish our (U.S.) culture was more respectful and accepting of the imperfect...since basically we're all imperfect!

  8. This is a GREAT post! I'm not familiar with Wabi Sabi (as far as the name... all too familiar with the imperfect part :-). Will check that out some more. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Thanks, Teresa! Isn't it nice to have a name to put on the concept, and to find that it's a positive one?!