Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Romance, Wabi-Sabi, and the Unglorification of Perfectionism

This is Jessica Lazarus.  She's getting married in October.  I wish I could say that this was yet another romance sparked by a feng shui cure, but nope, I only met her two days ago.

Coincidentally, it was at an engagement party.  (We were celebrating Angela Karen, Birmingham photographer, the gorgeous blonde in the background, who is getting married in May.)

I wanted to meet Jessica because of her HAIR.  It's red and pretty.  Again, coincidentally, it turns out that Jessica is a hair stylist and make-up artist and that, according to Angie, she is THE red expert in Birmingham.

She and I became fast friends, and as conversations go, Jessica asked me what I did for a living, and I told her that I was a feng shui consultant.  She lit up, as some people do, and she told me about her beloved home.   She and her fiancé live together in a older, more "charming" house on the edge of Forest Park and Avondale (Forest Park to him, Avondale to her) and she described how she wants everything "perfect" (i.e. the wall art can never get straight enough) and that her husband is a sort of happy-go-lucky free-for-all type who says that it's all good...it's wabi-sabi.

"Wabi-sabi?" I asked.  "Is that how he describes your relationship...or the house?"

Jessica smiled largely.  "Well, I meant the house, but I guess it could apply to our relationship too!"

You see, I had no idea what wabi-sabi meant.    It's Japanese, I knew, but only because it was the name of a sushi restaurant in Venice, CA where I used to reside.

I was intrigued.  "What do you mean?  I mean, what does IT mean?  Wabi-sabi."  My heart rate was going up.  I could tell we were hitting on something good and juicy and feng shui-y.

She kept smiling (she really has a charming smile) and said, "I don't know.  Trey says it's like the 'perfect imperfection,' like perfect is imperfect or the imperfections make a place perfect."

Ah-ha this was it!  After all, I often encounter people who think that their houses have to be PERFECT in order for it to have good feng shui.   And I'm like, "No, no, no.  Then it would NOT be good feng shui."

Furthermore, people are always saying to me, "YOUR home must be perfect."

And I'm like, "No it's not!  It's really not.  Trust me."  Then I wink and say, "But of course, it has good feng shui."

So, on this serendipitous evening, surrounded by bride-to-be's, I discover this word -- a beautiful, melodic, foreign, fun WORD -- for this concept of perfection being imperfect and imperfection being perfect.  Oh, how I love a paradox!

WABI- SABI.  There really is no real English translation for it.  There is only description.  I searched online for attempts at definitions.  While Wikipedia was satisfactory, this one was my favorite:

From NobleHarbor:

Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent.    ---- -architect Tadao Anode

Poetry, I tell ya.


Trust me, I'm still absorbing what the concept of wabi-sabi means, but I can tell you that, as far as feng shui goes, the word has inspired me to reinforce to you that a "perfect," Pinterest-worthy home may not be good feng shui.   A lived-in, happy, and (gasp) even outdated home, with quirks and imperfections, but a good flow, a humble presence, gracious hosts, and plenty of authenticity, may just be the best feng shui of all.

(This all being said, wabi-sabi is not an excuse for you not getting that annoying leak fixed nor allow the paint to chip all over the home.)

The point is, your home is as unique as you are.  None of us are perfect, and in this society, with its air-brushed bikini bodies and manicured lawns, we can forget that our imperfections -- and our homes' imperfections -- are well, what make us perfect.

What does this all have to do with Romance?  Interestingly, when I was 16, I met a girl my age who was raised in Europe, so naturally she had different sensibilities that I did, and she was in love, and I found her strangely wise.  She said to me once, about her boyfriend, "I love him because of his flaws.  It's his flaws that make him who he is.  And I love him for them."

And it's stuck with me ever since.

Congrats to both Angela and Jessica on your upcoming nuptials!  May the spirit of wabi-sabi be with you both!  xooxox

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