If you’ve ever lived on the beach or in a coastal environment you know about the effects of time. Watching the corrosion and cracking and curling of materials can be an interesting past-time. The copper wind chime turns a lovely verdigris. The iron screws on the rail corrode into wonderful grooved layers of texture. The patina of time-worn objects and splintered surfaces, the impermanence and imperfection of it all, teach us something about ourselves–if we pay attention. And paying attention is what the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi is about.
Like the wabi-sabi objects it embraces, the meaning of the term itself has changed through time. Today it connotes a quality of timeworn simplicity reflecting the natural cycle of growth and decay. Humble, uncluttered and unencumbered would describe a wabi-sabi home. Characteristics include asymmetry, irregularity, and austerity. Practitioners believe surrounding ourselves with imperfect and changing objects can help connect us to the natural world.
Recently I realized how my attitude toward imperfection has adjusted. I bought a pretty, hand-painted platter for a special dinner. A cheerful design in rich colors that would add to a beautiful tablescape. As I was giving it a first cleaning, before getting to use it on the table, it slipped from my hands and landed in the sink. Luckily it didn’t break into pieces but it did have a chip on one side now…hmmm, before regret and disappointment set in I felt an appreciation for the first of what may be many cracks and scratches. Like the first ding on a new car, it was bound to happen. Memories will be made with that platter and each ceramic chip will tell a story. And if the platter needs major repair, perhaps I’ll try this method:
Repairing breaks with gold. That would look great on my platter. And it would add a new dimension instead of diminishing the beauty of the object. That idea has opened a new avenue of creativity for me. Can you also see the possibilities in embracing the effects of time and texture? Can you appreciate the awesome processes of transformation?