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3.05.2011

The beauty of simplicity, age, and imperfection.

The beauty of bright green garden fresh cukes ready to be become pickles.
Do you ever have something cross your path over and over?  Something that you may not have found on your own, or that you looked at momentarily and dismissed?  That is how I have been with Wabi Sabi.  I wrote it off as another Asian inspired trend, something that really wouldn't improve my life, and went on with my life.  But it keeps crossing my path.

Most recently there was an article in Mother Earth News (which, by the way, is the best magazine ever and I can't believe I've only recently discovered it).

And a lightbulb came on.  This is the life philosophy I have been waiting for, and that I have been trying to live by without even knowing it.  It is beauty in utility, happiness in frugality, and appreciation of age (and it's signs).  In the past five or so years I have been driven not only to live a healthier life, but to be frugal and reduce waste, and to appreciate goods that are built for quality, not for disposibility.  And recently I have been attracted to goods that have the added appeal of age- I find old books, patina-ed metals, and dishes from past decades to be far more beautiful than those that can be bought new... and they are often cheaper.

I found this quote, from the above article, particularly rings true to me:

"A luxurious house and the taste of delicacies are only pleasures of the mundane world. It is enough if the house does not leak and the food keeps hunger away."

In a society that still values the McMansion on 5 unused acres, my husband and I instead chose to buy a smaller house on a few acres that we can use.  No one ever looks at our house and goes "wow, look at that house."  But it is solid.  The important things, things that may have caused a financial drain on us had they been older (the roof, the furnace, the windows), were new.  And it has character.  We realize that most young couples in our position would have gone for the new house in the subdivision, but we both agreed that we wanted an older farm house with character.  We both grew up in old houses, and while our parents would probably take the new house in a heartbeat (in all fairness, the houses we grew up in had no AC and only local heat) our fond memories of those homes obviously shaped our desire.

And as the article states, now is the time for us, as a country, to embrace Wabi Sabi.  The number of unemployed and underemployed alone should inspire us to make due with (and appreciate) less.  But besides that, we have become such a specialized and dependent society that if any of the systems we rely on (food, power, public safety, water, sewer, medical) were to fail 96% of the country would start running around like chickens with their heads cut off (I totally just made up that figure, but you know what I mean).  Think about it- if the food supply failed, how fast do you think the grocery stores would run out?  And if you couldn't go to the store next week, how long would you be able to feed your family?  What if the water suddenly stopped coming out of the faucets?

I'm sorry, I digress.  Wabi Sabi isn't exactly about being self sufficient.  But to me the two are similar.  And when you begin to look at the things you really need versus the things you simply want, something that is central to Wabi Sabi, you may find yourself wanting to rely less on "the chain" and more on yourself.

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