None of us can live indefinitely in the Garden of Eden. We are all thrown out in the world, into the cold, facing the inevitability of hardship, struggle and disappointment. We wake up one day to find our dreams shattered, our plans disrupted.
No shelter can fully protect us from the wrath of the storm.
This is the reality of this world. It is unpredictable and in constant flux. We can try to vigorously plan and control events to our favour, but in the final analysis we truly don’t know how it all will unfold in the future.
It is beyond our control.
We then ask ourselves, how can we can we best respond to this predicament?
We could naively try to chase perfection and blind ourselves to the nature of reality. However, as I have argued, this strategy is futile at best. If life is in perpetual change, any attempt to control and regulate things to our liking is akin to chasing after a moving target.
Alternatively, we can cultivate an attitude of acceptance. One that is more realistic and aligns with the way the world actually operates.
The Japanese concept of wabi sabi speaks to this notion of finding beauty in our flaws and in imperfections. Wabi sabi a way of life, attitude and aesthetic.
We can see this embodied Zen Buddhist art and ceramics in the concept of kintsugi. Broken pots, bowls and cups are restored and mended with a gold powder. The aim is not to hide or conceal the flaws of these broken objects, but rather to celebrate them. It is a symbol and reminder to us that nothing lasts forever.
All things are transient.
Wabi sabi is a helpful antidote to the anxieties of our time which are perpetuated by advertising and our consumerist societies. These signals tell us we ought to look or be a certain way, aligning our image with the fashions and trends of celebrity culture.
However, for many of us, we intuitively know we don’t want to partake in this perpetual striving. If we are honest with ourselves, we can finally admit that this charade is exhausting. A weight is lifted from our chest when we stop pretending and learn to embrace our flawed nature.
We can now accept ourselves, live authentically and age gracefully.
This freedom all begins when we learn to appreciate who we are rather than merely conforming to the unrealistic expectations of our modern materialistic societies.
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