Friday, January 07, 2005

Wabi Sabi

C. loves Japanese culture and all that it entails. My husband is the answer to the question, "what kind of a moron takes a 6 credit Japanese language class in college -for fun?" The language, the food, and the philosophy are all high on his list. It is with his interests in mind that he asked for, and received a book entitled "Wabi Sabi Simple" for Christmas. I happened to be in the bathroom "cleaning" when I saw the book lying there. The back cover explains that, "Wabi Sabi is an ancient Japanese aesthetic that emphasizes the value of simple things as a path to harmony." Hmmm...I could use some harmony around here, so I decided to thumb through it.

At first glance I realized something. My friends, I am a Wabi Sabi MASTER. This book is supposed to help you do the following:

Create Beauty – I have a brown thumb, the house looks like a war zone and I resemble an extra from the set of Twister. But hey, the kids are pretty good looking, so that's got to count for something.

Value Imperfection – Well, duh. I am surrounded by imperfection. Occasionally I tolerate it. There must be some value in tolerance.

Live Deeply – As we say here in the south, "Honey Please!" It doesn't get much deeper than this.

I was supremely confident when I began skimming through the book. The first chapter attempts to explain what Wabi Sabi actually IS. There's some mumbo jumbo in there about it being developed in the fifteenth century to tone down aristocratic tea parties. Since I've never actually attended an aristocratic tea party I figured that section does not pertain to me, so I scanned further. I found a section titled, "Dust: Waking to the Wonder of Decay." NOW we were talking! Not that I read it word for word, but this section said something about the beauty of light playing through swirling dust...or something. I KNEW it! My house is friggin GORGEOUS as it is filled with the "golden chaos." I resolved to never dust again. It is obviously beneficial for my family to experience the wonder of dust...or something. I only hope they appreciate my thoughtfulness.

The book went on to explain that Wabi Sabi is a secret I already know. It is a sign of "humble grace" and simplicity and some other stuff I skimmed over. The gist of it is the principal I already live by, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff." This is a concept I learned after having children. BK (before kids), I was a successful insurance agent. I had hundreds of clients and a lot of stress. Then I had children, which is a different kind of stress all together, but I digress. It was my first child that taught me the concept of DSTSS. During a visit my mother ran herself ragged sterilizing everything the baby touched when it would drop on the floor. I finally told her that she really didn't have to do that. "But there are germs on the floor and he'll probably put it in his mouth," she replied. "Mom, he eats bugs, I don't think the teething ring is going to kill him." She was horrified of course, but the DSTSS was too deeply ingrained in me to turn back. I still live by this rule today. When they are fighting and screaming, I just take deep breaths. DSTSS dictates that I not concern myself unless someone is bleeding or something is on fire. See, simple. I was a Wabi Sabi practitioner. I just didn't know it.

I figured there was no need to continue with the first chapter, since I was already proficient in what Wabi Sabi is. I moved ahead to what Wabi Sabi is NOT. I was a bit disturbed by this chapter to be honest with you. The first sign of trouble was the heading "Avoid Temptation." OK, sometimes this proves difficult, but then I realized that temptation could be a subjective thing. Does the author mean temptation to avoid wine and ice cream, or is he actually talking about the temptation to strangle someone? I chose to believe he was talking about the latter, so I was still OK. By the time I got to the list of ways people "miss Wabi Sabi" and noted that first on the list is "Overcommitment," I had become bored. I had learned all I needed to from this book.

I am obviously a Wabi Sabi MASTER. I wonder how that will look on the old resume?

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Name: Cattiva
Location: Virginia, United States

About Me: I'm the mom of three: #1 Son (20), The Princess of Wails (17) and their baby brother - The Baby (6). I was a grad-student working on an MA in history until we were surprised - I mean blessed - with The Baby. I'll get back to it...someday (the thesis, not the kid - I have no choice concerning the kid). I am one of only a few people I went to school with who is actually using their history degree in my career (and to think my Father called it Basket-weaving!). I live a very hectic life amongst massive clutter. I call it a good day if we have managed to get home at night without losing one of the kids (no matter how hard I try!). Friends say I have a humorous take on life's happenings. The sad part is that what I write about is true. I laugh to keep from crying.

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