Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wreck This Life ( Wabi-Sabi and the Perfection of Imperfection)

If you're a loyal reader (and you must be, since you're back after my multi-month hiatus) then you already know that I've been working diligently to embrace the beauty of serendipity and be more open to the wonderful opportunities that hide inside of ruined plans.  You can see a tiny example of this in the image to the left.  My friend, Cheri, took this photo.  It was intended to be a reminder of our irreverent evening out at Jameson's in Eugene.  I had tamed my hair perfectly, posed sweetly and had the most genuine smile on my face...but none of that came through.  Instead, we ended up with a side-lit image that just barely highlights my dimple as a random guy photo-bombs us with drunken excitement.  In a way, this random mash of elements is a much more accurate depiction of how the night went, even though the original subject was hijacked by ill-positioned lights and well-positioned strangers.

A "ruined" picture isn't that big of a deal anymore, is it? With the rapid-fire digital cameras that we all carry with us now days, we can just keep snapping until we get what we want.  It's a much bigger risk to ruin something a drawing, a carpet, or a brand new book.  That's where Wreck This Journal comes in. I ran across a copy of it at Borders the other day and it only took a few pages to anchor itself to my heart. As someone who will buy a blank pad of paper and leave it sitting on my nightstand, terrified to make a mistake on such a pristine medium, I was utterly transformed by the message of WTJ.  The journal not only encourages you, it practically *begs* you, to do something wrong with it.  It wants you to fold it, tear it and get it dirty. It wants you to drip and rip and crease with reckless abandon.  It wants you to try things that you've not had the courage to try before and let go of the fear that you will do something incorrect.  It wants you to have your way with it -- have A HUNDRED different ways with it -- then stand back and realize that what you've done has given it a level of beauty that is impossible to reach when you walk a line of perfection.  In short, it asks you to do with your journal what I'm trying to do with my life!

These concepts aren't new.  In fact, the Japanese call the phenomenon wabi-sabi.  It's basically the belief that "nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect."  It's the idea that something can be flawed and still be beautiful. It is permission to stop looking at your body with criticism and start embracing it as uniquely gorgeous. It's the ability to forgive mistakes as they are elements of your unique life experience.  It's the valve that releases the pressure to get everything right each step of the way. It's the knowledge that wrecking something doesn't always ruin it.

That said, it's important to realize that the idea of seeing the beauty in a wreck requires that there's something left.  I don't want anyone to get the idea that a wasted life is equally acceptable to me.  I wouldn't drop it in the trash or throw it in the fire, I just need to stop protecting it so diligently from the wear and tear that gives it purpose and character.  I don't want it stolen or kidnapped, but I would be happy to welcome a photo-bomber every now and again :D

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