Skip to main content

Wabi Sabi

"Hello. My name is Elise, and I'm a perfectionist."

"Hello, Elise."

"Wabi sabi" is the Japanese aesthetic that the imperfect is not only beautiful, but makes our world MORE beautiful. A vase with a slightly cracked glaze is not ugly, bad or ruined - the cracked glaze is part of the beauty. It has been a long time coming, but I'm starting to enjoy this whole wabi-sabi worldview.

For a lot of dreary, psychological, family-dynamic reasons, I believed that if I wasn't perfect, things would fall apart. By "things", I mean everything: me, the world, possibly the universe. My errors would cause a rift in the space-time continuum, pigs would fly and aliens would suffer migraines without knowing the cause. If I was a minute late, turned in a paper with a typo or over-cooked the chicken, gravity would cease to exist, people would point and laugh, and I would be ruined. Wrong. Broken. Very, very bad.

Let me tell you, it's hard to keep this up. Tough. Some might say impossible, but of course, we perfectionists don't accept that: we sally forth, making ourselves and everyone around us miserable in the attempt to balance all things in our puny little hands. It is not a very happy way to live.

God tried to intervene, but I ignored him. He tried harder; I ignored harder. As with any addict, I needed an intervention, and He intervened.

God sent me exactly what I needed: five wildly, crazily, sloppily, awesomely imperfect kids to teach me that wabi-sabi is the way to go. My kids, all adopted, were all born cocaine-exposed, and have suffered a wide-range of issues because of it. Try as I might, I cannot create a perfect family. And I don't want to.

Eldest Son was a mess from the day we got him, and he just got messier. Now, he's graduating from high school and getting ready to head to the university. He has done work on himself that would have broken others, and he's done so well. But the glazed is cracked.

Tallest Son has the attention span of a hyperactive puppy, but has some sort of mystical gift with all things electronic - the Computer Whisperer. But the glaze is still cracked.

Curly-Haired Daughter wants to dig into the grim, dirty emotional stuff of herself and life, but Lordy, that girl can draw. And write. I'm amazed at her art. But the glaze is still cracked.

Dark-haired Daughter has demons the rest of us can't even fathom. Her emotions are amplified and out-of-control, and it takes the sheer force of her will to get the through a typical day in one piece. She's also loving and empathetic, sweet and helpful. The glaze is still cracked.

Eating-machine Son can be cranky, contentious, weirdly set in his ways. Little disturbances become explosions. He's also got an eye for detail that most artists would envy, is funny, sweet and compassionate. And yeah, his glaze is cracked.

I can say with honesty, appreciation and love: I like the cracks. I've learned to embrace and enjoy the cracks. The imperfections are beautiful - not easy, not planned - but beautiful. Even though I still occasionally struggle with perfectionism, wabi-sabi is so much more fun.

Who knew that the cracks would be the very thing that holds me together?


Popular posts from this blog

Trying to "end run" God

If you're a football fan, you know what an end run is. From Merriam-Webster:
a football play in which the ballcarrier attempts to run wide around the end of the line We try to "end run" God a lot. I do. I figure I know better. I've got this - no need to worry the Big Guy about such a trivial thing.

Of course, it never works.

Like the puppy above, when we try and evade the tough obstacle (even though we KNOW we will eventually have to do it), we end up - well, off in the bushes.

But oh! How I wished my way worked. I'd love to take a flying leap and land smoothly and gracefully. People would be in awe, as if watching Simone Biles nail a balance beam routine that no one else would even attempt. I would shyly look down and blush - just lightly - and acknowledge (But humbly! Oh so humbly!) my achievement.

But no: I am the one pulling myself out of the bushes, scratches all over my legs and twigs in my hair. I'd hear that gentle but loving voice of God saying, &quo…

Crossing Guard

I saw you
as you guided
your little man across that busy street.

You were wearing some
big man boots
watching cars and lights.

Your little man had on
black sneakers and
a Mickey Mouse hat
that bounced
as he walked.

He wasn't watching nothing but
your big man boots
the white stripes of the crosswalk.

Just before
he got to the sidewalk again,
his step bounced a bit
- he hopped over
a spot where the asphalt broke.

You turned to look,
holding out a hand to
your little man.
Not rushed or angry,
just making sure
he got up
on that sidewalk.

Then you walked on,
in your big man boots,
face into a cold Michigan wind,
with the little man behind,
his hat bouncing.

Be Transfigured

From today's readings: 

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the and his clothes became white as light.

...we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Today we celebrate the Transfiguration. For whatever reason, Jesus brought three of His disciples to Mount Tabor to witness this miracle. They weren't sure what they were seeing, but they knew enough to throw themselves to the ground in the presence of Almighty God. St. Peter (who never did anything halfway) excitedly declares that he will erect tents on the mountain as a way of memorializing the event. But Jesus tells him and the others that they are not to tell people what they witnessed - at least not yet.

In the second reading, the requirement to be quiet has bee…