From the archive:

I came across the term wabi sabi 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. 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
Cobblestones                                      Concrete
Hemp                                                   Polyester
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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About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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