wabi-sabi: the beauty of imperfection.

What is wabi-sabi It’s a term I’ve been hearing and thinking about a lot lately.  The first time I heard the phrase (or at least, consciously realized I was hearing it) was from my professor in last month’s World Literature class.  He called it, “Finding the beautiful in the melancholy.”  Since then, the word has flooded into my consciousness as I’ve been bombarded with it pretty much everywhere I turn.  (That’s synchronicity for you!)  I’m not sure if it’s merely that I’ve been noticing it more, or if the world in general is becoming fascinated with this concept all at once.  Anyway, my most recent encounter with the word was in the spring 2012 issue of Light & Truth magazine.  (A beautiful “Inspirational Photography and Lifestyle Journal” that comes in PDF format.  I am slowly working my way through it’s pages and it is so far worth every penny.)  Anyway, in her article “Wabi-Sabi: Imperfection Through the Lens,” Jessica Kerr defines wabi-sabi as: “The beauty of rustic imperfection, impermanence, incompletion – of life as it appears on the thresholds of emergence and dissolution.”

This is what I am attracted to in art.  The cracked. The broken.  The odd.  The unusual.  The imperfect.  This is what I see through the lens.  I like blur.  I like grain.  I like texture.  In exploring myself as a photographer I am finding that these are the things I am drawn to.  This is what I find beautiful.  I took a walk this afternoon without my camera, because I wanted to really look at and experience my surroundings.  As I walked, I thought about this concept of wabi-sabi.  My eyes were drawn to the cracking paint on the sides of houses, the jumbles of weeds crawling up a rusting mobile home, crooked and rusting screen doors, reflections in windows, sprawling flowers interwoven with criss-crossing telephone wires, erratic, un-matching, wild & enticing colors.  This is what my eyes see.  I think this is why I’m so attracted to artists like Feather Love Photography.  This is why I love playing with my Lensbaby and why I’m experimenting with film.  I don’t just like those imperfections, those happy accidents—I crave them.

And when I really think deeply about it, this translates to what we are learning in my yoga teacher training.  Wabi-Sabi:   There is sweetness found in our differences and our imperfection.  I am learning more and more the truth that there is no such thing as the “perfect” looking yoga pose.  Every single body is different; no two humans move the same.  I would rather see someone do what feels good in their body, then try to twist themselves into some supposedly “perfect” shape if it doesn’t feel right or good.  Wabi-Sabi.  Learning to see what is right for each individual, what we all intrinsically know deep inside—that will be my job as an instructor.  Encouraging students to really feel their poses from the inside out and to relish in the sensation of doing what is right for their bodies.  “Modify the pose to the student not the student to the pose.”  That is perfection.  That is where we find self-love—when we realize that we are perfect just as we are, with all our freckles and laughs lines and tight hamstrings perfectly in place.

Deep thoughts for today…it might make sense, it might not…it may not be a perfect post, but that’s just the point, right?


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