I can hear your inner dialogue right now: Wabi Whatie?
No, this isn't a plea to go on a sushi photowalk and find some bright green wasabi while you're out and about (though don't tempt me, I am hungry right now).
Wabi Sabi is the Japanese aesthetic of an object being beautiful because it's perfectly imperfect.
Of course, that is the overly simplified definition, in reality, it's a philosophy embedded in Japanese culture, and it's not that easily distilled down into a few words.
Essentially, it's about seeing beauty in imperfection, savoring simplicity, and recognizing the impermanence and transience of nature. If something is Wabi Sabi, it's not beautiful in spite of its cracks or its patina or its handmade dents and dings, it's beautiful BECAUSE of these flaws.
It's the difference between a factory made "flawless" mug and one that's been lovingly created on a potter's wheel by a human with FLAWesomeness oozing from its origins. It's one-of-a-kind rather than mass-produced.
Researcher Richard Powell says, "Wabi-Sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities:
nothing is finished.
nothing is perfect.
In the brand new photowalk guide (you can download it here if you don't have one), one of the outdoor prompts (number 17) is to: shoot texture, peeling paint or a rusty patina - a prompt inspired by Wabi Sabi which is one of the guiding philosophies in my Life Feast online and "in the wild" program.
Wabi Sabi is integral to the Life Feast, because it's pretty hard to feast on your life when perfectionism is throwing up road blocks everywhere you turn.
Perfectionism is exhausting, depleting and has you giving up before you're even out of the starting gate. Whether you're trying to be the perfect parent or the perfect executive or the perfect anything, it gets in the way of growth, risks, and living a bolder, bigger, feastier life.
Don't let perfectionism be in the driver's seat.
And let's face it, perfectionism is just a fancy word for fear.
When you embrace your own Wabi Sabi, this truth that none of us and nothing in this world is perfect, that you are beautiful because you are imperfect and impermanent (hey, life is short!), you can stop striving for an impossible standard and start living a perfectly imperfect life instead.
And guess what, we already are living perfectly imperfect lives, we just don't have to beat ourselves up about it.
A year ago, right after spring quarantine ended, I spotted a rusted-out Land Cruiser outside of our dog groomer's shop. I had just dropped our fluff ball off and was headed to my car when I saw it. It sparked an impromptu, much needed, photowalk for about 15 minutes.
I took photos of the Land Cruiser, then spotted a beautiful, blossoming tree across the street, I snuck a few shadow photos in, and, finally noticed all of the asphalt art on the sidewalk beneath my feet.
I wasn't expecting so much art in the everyday, as I was rushing to drop my dog off. Pretty sure I was still in my pajamas, embracing the casual parts of pandemic life and the fact that no one would recognize me with a mask on ... but the Wabi Sabi Land Cruiser caught my eye. Once it did, I was primed to see so much more that I hadn't noticed in my rushed everyday world.
Yesterday, one year later, I was back at the dog groomer's ... and guess what? That cool old Wabi Sabi Land Cruiser was still parked out front. So I filmed a little behind the scenes for you.
Try Wabi Sabi for yourself!
I'd love to see you take a Wabi Sabi photowalk. What might look like a hazard to someone else, can actually be so much more interesting from a curious camera's perspective. And, in turn, shifts our own perspective about aging, living and embracing our messy human selves.
Happy Photowalking, my friend!
Be sure to tag me on Instagram and use #photowalkwithlizzie so I can see what you are up to. You can follow my photowalks and get my creative positive psychology tips there, as well.
OOOH and there's also a Life Feast podcast ... if you want to hear some of my struggles with perfectionism and how I get out of my own way (and finally start a podcast), give it a listen.
The Wabi Sabi Land Cruiser from my just out of quarantine photowalk in 2020, a favorite photo of mine.
PS If you see typos in here, let's just call them little Wabi Sabi digital love notes from me to you. Not only is brave better than perfect, but DONE is better than perfect. ;-)
PPS Ready to feast on your life with me and an incredible community of other feasty folks? ==> details are here.
Just pop your email address in here and you'll receive my FREE photowalk guide.