Rustic: a practice in imperfection


In writing about simplicity, I want to be mindful of how I approach these subjects. Often I find myself focusing on the negative, i.e. what we shouldn't do, as opposed to what we can say yes to while living in the same way. In the future, I hope that I can present my ideas in a positive light, not pushing right vs. wrong ways of living on people, but rather sharing my own values. 


That said, I have tended toward perfection in my life, and eventually I realized it has been more trouble to my mental health than it is worth. There is freedom in letting perfection go and embracing imperfection. Please don't read this as "letting things go" and therefore, apathy. I still believe in quality. It just doesn't need to be perfect. Releasing myself from the intense pressure of perfection has been a soulful and spiritual act, one that I still find myself embracing over and over.

When I was creating for the Market, every once in awhile I would view my work with a critically perfectionistic eye and wonder if anyone in the world would want what I was making ... and then I would remind myself that quality, not perfection, was the goal. I seriously considered making a sign that said "rustic: a practice in imperfection" and shoo-ing away anyone that wanted factory-made perfection. I didn't, but the idea stuck with me.

Then, very recently, when I was reading about Simplicity, I came upon the Japanese idea of "wabi-sabi" - and this is just what I appreciate about the lasting quality of rustic, vintage, and beautiful things.

"Wabi-sabi is imperfect: a beloved chipped vase or a scarred wooden table. This getting-away-from-perfect is one of the wabi-sabi's most appealing facets. It means you can keep the tablecloth even though it's fraying on the edges and admire the rug as it fades from brilliant red to pale rose. You can let things be."
Less is More (pg 160)

"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, net 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." (You can read this and more about wabi-sabi here or just Google it.) 

This is what I find to be beautiful, you may not and that's okay. There are many different kinds of beautiful things and in that, I rejoice. The main draw for me is reclaiming items instead of buying new and continuing in the culture of brand-new, perfection-based consumerism. This also perpetuates the Haitian saying, "De ga je" - using what you have and the creativity that comes.

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