This is all about wabi sabi and has nothing to do with a Giant Peach–it’s just that the term “wabi sabi” sounds to me like the title of a children’s book. Or someone making fun of the Japanese language. I came across the term a few months ago and immediately bought a book about it, Simply Imperfect by Robyn Griggs Lawrence. I am always looking for ways to make a virtue of imperfection. According to Lawrence, wabi sabi is the Japanese art of appreciating things that are imperfect, primitive and incomplete. I tend to think of it as a type of décor, but it is more than that. However, making home a sanctuary, a simple place without clutter, disturbance, noise and distraction, is an important element of wabi sabi. It is a philosophy that promotes attention to the people and objects around us, treating everyone and everything with reverence, generosity and respect—sort of Mindfulness on steroids. Attention to food and drink is part of living in the moment. While I was writing this, Chef Eric Ripert (Restaurant Le Bernardin, New York City) popped up on the TV screen, intoning in an irresistible French accent, “When we eat, we begin with the eyes.” The camera cut to his simply prepared and beautifully arranged dishes—very wabi sabi. Here is a partial list of what Robyn Griggs Lawrence writes is and is not wabi sabi:
IS Wabi Sabi Is NOT Wabi Sabi
Bare branches Flower arrangements
Handmade items Machine-made items
Clotheslines Electric Dryers
Hand mixers Food processors
I don’t know anyone who consistently falls into the left-hand column, and clotheslines and hand mixers are definitely not in my future, but the goals of simplicity, mindfulness and appreciation of life are good ones. I think I’m going to add to that dinner prepared by Eric Ripert.
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