Wabi Sabi is the very hard-to-define Japanese sense that the imperfect and impermanent aspect to things is of great beauty and importance.
Think of an ancient oak table - the nicks and scratches and discolorations make that table all the more epic. A brand new raw unscathed chunk of oak would not have the same gravitas, the same history, the same aged beauty.
We all are damaged - how can we get through life without nicks and bumps?
and some whoppers of scars and yes, a few colossal mistakes?
Now imagine that all those scars and bad decisions and character flaws and less-than-perfect physical traits are the very things that actually make you beautiful?
Hard to do, isn't it?
When I was a kid, I stuttered. I was horrified whenever in the middle of a sentence my words stuck. It felt like my brain was short-circuiting. It felt terribly embarrassing, and the curious expressions on other people's faces as I struggled to make words come out of my mouth embarassed me.
I also was a sort of chubby, messy kid. My clothes didn't always fit right, my hair was really hard to keep neat (it still is a frizzy nest), I didn't always understand hygiene. I think most kids are like that, but all of these things upset me. That stuttering chubby kid did not feel much self love.
Cut ahead a few decades - I learned to polish it all up - I straightened my hair, learned to talk more fluently, took showers and groomed myself. Ta Da. I am now okay, I thought.
Then, this last year, my stutter came back.
I can not tell you the horror that fills my brain when it gets stuck on a word. It doesn't happen very often, but it does happen.
and believe me, I notice it.
I even went to a neurologist to see if anything was wrong.
She didn't think I stuttered (it didn't happen in her office.) She said not to worry about it.
But I worried.
Then I started learning about Wabi Sabi.
and not only am I learning that what makes us imperfect makes us beautiful and interesting, but also that the challenges we face and overcome make us much more interesting people.
Those stretch marks?
Signs that I birthed three amazing children.
Those freckly age spots?
Signs that I have spent lovely decades outside enjoying being in the sun.
Those chunky thighs?
Signs that I am not now and never will be thin, but that my body type is beautiful as it is.
That frizzy hair?
A sign that there is room for all types in this world, not just straight-haired blonds.
I am not quite ready to be thankful that I stutter.
But I know that the old oak table with marks and dents and nicks has stories to tell.
and it's character makes it so beautiful.
All of our blemishes make us beautiful.
So I am working on embracing my Wabi Sabi.
This Ted Talk given by Cheryl Hunter explains it in a powerful way.