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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fleeting moments

This morning I woke up to golden light dappling through my bedroom blinds onto my closet doors.  As I rubbed sleep from my eyes, I watched the light as it glimmered in front of me like a shimmering curtain into another world.  I lay entranced for a moment, then in a burst of inspiration ran to get my camera.  I wanted to capture this moment, this fleeting ethereal feeling.

It’s been a while since reaching for my camera has been my first response in moments like these.  Ever since starting a photography business with my dear friend last year, and subsequently quitting when I discovered that I didn’t enjoy it like I thought I would, I have been left feeling uncertain of my place in the photography world.  I spent the year taking photos to make other people happy, and forgot what it felt like to make photos for myself—creating for pure enjoyment of it.  I didn’t know what I was looking for anymore.  It was almost like I kind of forgot how to see through a lens.

Not that I didn’t learn a lot of valuable lessons last year—I did!  I learned a whole lot on the technical side of photography, and I learned a lot about my camera.  I learned a lot of what-to-do’s and even more what-not-to-do’s!  I had a ton of fun with Nicole.  We got to travel together, (including going to Colorado to shoot a wedding!) laugh together, and be absolutely and completely terrified together.  It was a totally awesome experience and I don’t regret a moment of it.  But when all was said and done, I just knew that photography as a business was just not for me.

Still, the year was spent taking photos for others.  I didn’t take many photos for myself.  Most of my photos from last year that aren’t business related were taken on my iPhone.  So I lost this sort of sense of who I was as an artist—as a photographer.  It took me quite a while to want to pick up my camera again because I just wasn’t sure what I wanted from it.

Until the last couple months, anyway.  I started to really crave my camera, to really desire to start capturing the world as I see it again.  I thought, maybe I don’t know what I’m looking for, but I’m never going to find it if I don’t start picking up my camera again!  So I’ve been playing.  What do I want to see? I ask myself this question.  Not, what will everyone else like?  But, what will I like?  As I’ve been exploring photography again, I’m feeling increasingly inspired.  I just want to play; to create without any agenda except to express myself.

I feel like I am starting a whole new chapter as a photographer, as a visual artist.  This time I am starting from the inside out.  It feels good.

Also, Happy Spring Equinox! There’s something extra special about the light today. :)