Wabi Sabi Simple
Create Beauty, Value Imperfection, Live Deeply
by Richard R. Powell
1. Words. Have a look at the following list of phrases and see if there is one you particularly identify with or one that triggers strong emotions: Scientific Method
Jesus is Lord
Rock and Roll
Yin and Yang
Supply and Demand
The American Dream
Just Do It
2. The Search. Onestat.com has reported that most people use 2 word phrases in their favorite search engines when they go to find something on the internet. Among the search phrases entered world wide, 32 percent are 2 word phrases, 25 percent are 3 word phrases and 19 percent are 1 word phrases. (is a phrase still a phrase when it has only one word?)
That's over 70 percent of people searching on 3 words or less. We tend to encapsulate concepts and ideas in couplets and triplets, choosing more than one word, but less than three, most of the time. 2 or 3 word phrases define and find the things people are searching for.
And what are those words? Mostly the names of Hollywood stars, sports teams, the names of search engines themselves, and pornographic or dating related words. A bit of a let down for those interested in some of the concepts represented by the phrases to the left.
It would be nice to read that masses of people are searching for information on important topics and concepts, but the fact of the matter is that most people are not. Don't let it get you down. Popular topics are just that, popular. The Hollywood stars and the winning teams of any given moment have a limited time in the spotlight. Important ideas can have effects that change the course of history as they change the course of people's lives. The words that capture and symbolize such ideas and concepts can take awhile for the average person to remember and only become a part of common speech when they receive large amounts of media attention or are popularized as a result of a social movement or major shifts in cultural paradigms.
Some concepts and their marker words don't seem to have staying power no matter how important they are. The following words might be familiar to you, but chances are you would have a hard time defining them:
outsourcing, augmented reality, homeostasis, epistemology, pedagogy, bicameral, convergence, hegemony, and multilateralism. Other more academic words simple don't register at all: nonreductive physicalism, Defamiliarization, and Pseudotranshistorical.
Humor helps us remember some words and phrases such as diworsification, seagull manager, mouse potato, and alpha geek. In the long run these phrases, though catchy, will likely pass out of common usage and disappear from the common lexicon.
So what about this phrase, wabi sabi? As an Onomatopoeia wabi sabi sounds floppy, soft and almost frivolous. Echoing twiggly wiggly, floppsy moppsy, willy nilly, and silly billy, people on first hearing the word without any knowledge of its background assume it is something light hearted and fun. Either that or they confuse it with wasabi, the horseradish-like paste enjoyed with sushi.
The book is divided into 10 chapters:
1 - What Wabi Sabi is
2 - What Wabi Sabi is not
3 - Wabi Sabi beginnings
4 - Wabi Sabi at home
5 - Wabi Sabi friendships
6 - Wabi Sabi at work
7 - Wabi Sabi relaxation
8 - Wabi Sabi in the garden
9 - Wabi Sabi creativity
10 - Deeper Wabi Sabi
3. The Concept. Wabi sabi, while being simple, is neither frivolous nor floppy. It is a deep, intuitive, meaningful concept which avoids stuffy formalism and repels popular attention. Despite marketers attempts to use wabi sabi to power a new trend in home furnishings, the concept will remain authentic despite its media attention. Will it enter the common vocabulary? Time will tell.
Wabi Sabi Simple helps people interested in this concept find practical ways to integrate it into their lives, and in this way, may have a lasting impact on the world.
More than a passing idea about beauty, wabi sabi can turn into a way of life for those who trust its beauty. For those who find it already interwoven in their lives, it is encouraging to realize that others value authenticity, natural beauty, and alternatives to competition and consumerism.
The positive result of the popularization of wabi sabi may be that those of us who realize its importance will find we are not alone. Written as a guide for living, the book can serve as a devotional reminder of what is important to you and how to live differently in world consumed with consuming. As much a sermon to myself as a 'how to' manual for others, the book illustrates this new paradigm with stories and lessons from life. A central contention of the book is that wabi sabi is not just an interesting Japanese idea.
It is nothing less than a human value expressed in different ways in different cultures around the world. While it is probably true that no other culture has recognized and expressed it as fully as that culture that flowered in medieval Japan, it is a strong component of all cultures which recognize the truth of impermanence and the value of natural beauty. The techniques suggested in the book are ways to release the creative power of this intense but understated philosophy.
4. Where to buy the book. If you have a local book seller please ask her to carry this title and recommend it to those who need encouragement to be authentic and natural. If your local bookseller can not supply you with this title, please order your copy online at:Amazon.ca or your favorite online store.