The decorations are now packed, hidden away until next year and the holiday gatherings and celebrations are over. We are now back to the demands of our ordinary, everyday life.
For many, there is a certain melancholic letdown after the holidays, and I must admit I am who feels a little bummed when January 2nd rolls around. Facing the long, cold dark winter months ahead as the festive light-filled excitement slides away from us can turn into days of plaintive indifference.
As a result, I tend to rush through the dreary, drab days of winter with my eyes closed, dashing quickly as my mind focuses on the more scenic and colorful times that come with summer. I do this even though I know I’m missing a lot beauty that is hidden in the chill, frost and ice.
It is during times like these when I try to bounce out of my darkened reverie and borrow a concept attributed to Japanese culture when things are not as neat and pretty as I wish. The term is “wabi sabi” and it is loosely interpreted to mean “perfect imperfection”. It is the mindset that we find beauty in flaws and expand our experience of the magnificence that most often can only be seen with eyes of the heart.
Author, Robyn Griggs Lawrence, in her article, “Wabi-Sabi: The Art of Imperfection”
expresses the concept with perfection (no pun intended). “Wabi-sabi understands the tender, raw beauty of a gray December landscape and the aching elegance of an abandoned building or shed. It celebrates cracks and crevices and rot and all the other marks that time and weather and use leave behind. To discover wabi-sabi is to see the singular beauty in something that may first look decrepit and ugly.”
Lawrence goes on to point out that having the ability to see beauty in the unpleasantries requires only the imagination. “It doesn’t require money, training, or special skills. It takes a mind quiet enough to appreciate muted beauty, courage not to fear bareness, willingness to accept things as they are—without ornamentation. It depends on the ability to slow down, to shift the balance from doing to being, to appreciating rather than perfecting.”
So, this morning on my walk, instead of cursing the cold and icy pavement beneath my feet, I attempted Lawrence’s suggestions. Instead of rushing through my daybreak exercise in the normal single-minded fashion, I slowed down to look -REALLY LOOK- around me and was surprised that the author might be correct in her advice.
I saw bird tracks in the snow. I heard the wind. I felt the snowflakes on my exposed skin. “When was the last time I noticed these things?”, I wondered.
It was then that I truly realized I can complain, moan and be displeased about the cold and gloomy days - or I can create and thus see the splendor around me. Either way, I have to get through the letdown of past celebrations and through winter somehow, someway. It might behoove me and those close to me to give the ol’ winter wabi sabi thing a whirl.
Nothing is flawless and nothing last forever, including the holiday letdown most of us feel. And, if I can pick myself up by my blue polka-dotted Bog bootstraps and see the charm around me even the smallest “birdtrack in the snow” sense, then I know I can make it until summer with a bit of joy. That, I think I can handle and is – for me - perfection imperfection!