Sunday, 7 February 2016

The Art of Imperfection and Wabi Sabi

By Heather de Wit – Founder of INSPIRING SOUTH AFRICANS


As I continue down the road on my journey, I’m trying to drop The Perfectionist in me – it’s not an easy process, as resistance rears its niggly head often and challenges me – But I’ll get there … with the tools I’ve found and continue to find along the way. We can be way too hard on ourselves at times, which can block possibility and even immobilize us.


As an out there creative, seeing imperfection as an Art makes me smile, as I believe we are all Artists in whatever role we are playing in this life. – That all is perfect, just as it is, in this moment – That we are all right where we are meant to be – right now - in this moment – We manifested our current status in life all by ourselves, by the conscious choices we have made and this may not seem perfect right now …

We see so much of the small stuff as imperfect and try to perfect it with a quick fix, in the hopes that it will go away. But with a shift in attitude, we can change the power it has over us, the way we can choose to see it, so it does not affect our day or our mood.


Wabi-Sabi is a fascinating Japanese sensibility, that reveres the Art of Imperfection and the paradox of the inevitability of mistakes. It represents Japanese aesthetics and world view, centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is ‘imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete’.

It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the 3 marks of existence, specifically impermanence, suffering and emptiness or absence of self-nature.
Characteristics of the Wabi-Sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity - roughness or irregularity - simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

Architect and Artist Leonard Koren explains in Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers’ – It is about the minor and the hidden, the tentative and the ephemeral – things so subtle and evanescent they are almost invisible at first glance – impermanent, imperfect, incomplete.

So how do we do this if we choose ?

  •  Introduce the fabric of Wabi-Sabi into our daily lives
  • Lighten up
  • Take the time to see the sacred in the subtle and most ordinary of things – e.g. watching the ants, the flowers, the clouds, butterflies, the glory of nature in all things …
  • Be kind to ourselves
  • Oh – and did I mention, you have to slow down !

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