I have been spending a lot of time in Nature this season. The cool weather invites me to go into the woods and linger. And everywhere I see change and decay. It reminds me that enjoying the beauty of imperfection is a perfect way to cultivate sovereignty and authenticity.
The Japanese have made this into an art form that they call wabi sabi. “Wabi” is essentially a “less is more” approach. It means “understated elegance” or “rustic simplicity.”
“Sabi” means “lean or withered, a flower past its bloom.” This refers to the appreciation of age, wear, or scars that result in serenity and come from a life well-lived.
It happens here in the forest when trees grow too close to each other and rub each other and making creaking sounds when the wind blows. The folding of a mushroom that was perfectly symmetrical yesterday is another example. All the brilliant fall colors that precede death of the forest is yet another example.
Western life glorifies youth, newness, and things that go bling. We want the peak, the prime, the ripest, best things. And we want to stay comfortably there.
While that is exciting, it’s only one aspect of life. If we only appreciate that, we become depressed, anxious, unsatisfied, and stressed when things aren’t that. We aren’t living life in its fullness or being totally authentic. A thing that is always perfect is trapped in the wheel, never changing, never living.
The wheel of life is always turning. Change is constant. The only way to be sovereign and authentic is to embrace the change. See the beauty of imperfection in your plans, your body, your family, your surroundings – everything. And accept that it is more than alright as it is. It’s beautiful because of the imperfection.
If you are having a hard time grasping this, let your mind wander to a time when you were listening to a flawless singer. She’s singing beautifully, emotionally, and then she hits a dissonant note that grabs your attention. Your nervous system goes on high alert. Then she slides back into the predicted harmony and you feel a blessed release.
This is wabi sabi. This could not have happened without the imperfection. These moments are not things to wash away and correct. They are the secret sauce that make things real and meaningful. It’s the practice of turning towards the beauty within and appreciating what is. It’s the doorway to compassion, freedom, and sovereignty as it embraces conflict, duality, tension, and inconsistency. What is more natural than that?
So, as I breathe in the sweet earth on the trail today, I take a lesson from Nature and release any “shoulds,” worries or to do lists. I don’t need more time, money, beauty or anything. Everything is perfect just as it is.