Community//

This Japanese Philosophy Helped Me Reboot My Life

In repairing my life, I ended up loving it more…

In our culture, we are taught to encapsulate ourselves in patterns, in symmetries and routines. From the beginning, we are orchestrated to aspire for perfection in everything that we do, just striving to get everything right is not enough. And as we age, the whole idea of attaining perfection distances us from embracing simple pleasures of life. They easily go unnoticed. For instance, do you remember when was the last time you ate to your heart’s content without worrying about your weight? Or, drove with your windows down and let the cool breeze fiddle with your hair? When was the last time you spent your night observing the unfailing beauty of stars? Or, woke up at dawn to watch the sunrise? In this time and age when the whole world thrives on a wide array of filters to make it look and feel perfect, what it has lost is the appetite to appreciate the solemnity of what it naturally has. The pursuit of perfection limits our ability to be present and literally robs us of the vitality of life. We are all plagued by the idea of ‘trying to be perfect’, little do we pay attention to the richness that lies in the imperfect renditions of our natural state. 

Life’s A Hustle

2018 was a difficult year for me. My husband and I had changed cities, jobs and moved into our new home. By the end everything got settled, I found myself completely lost in transition. It was not supposed to be that difficult, however, the yearning to go back where we came from had split me into two halves and got me completely uprooted. Unable to free myself from this state of unhappiness, I got caught in an intense ‘ripple effect’. Every wave led me to a whirlpool and sucked me in. Every day posed a new challenge. Every morning, I got up with a battle in my head. The reason for my sorrow was my inability to accept my present or the impermanence that encircles our life. The perfectly comfortable life that I once had (or, I believed I had), had pushed me to make comparisons and withdrew me from my present. The melancholic look on my face bothered everyone at home. Fearing my own negativity, I had slowly isolated myself from the world around me. I had reduced to a sad grumpy woman, lost a lot of weight and that radiance and zestfulness had gone.

Wabi-Sabi  

Then, a few months ago, I came across a wonderful article on Japanese philosophy called Wabi-Sabi. Ever heard of it? Originally, Wabi and Sabi were two different terms. The term ‘Wabi’ (侘) symbolized stillness, silence found in rustic surroundings, while ‘Sabi’ (寂) referred to aging, the beauty that lies in natural decay caused by time. But the 14th century saw a positive unification of these two words and the driver in their conflation was Buddhism. Together they represented the acceptance of simple, yet transient states of life.

Rustic, imperfect, solitary or wrinkled, the idea of Wabi-Sabi speaks of a readiness to accept things as they are. A classic example of Wabi-Sabi is an art form called Kintsugi. According to Kintsugi, cracks (mental or physical) form an intrinsic part of our lives. They are seen as shreds of evidence of those storms that could not wither us away. They are those scales that measure our strength and resilience. The beauty of Kintsugi lies in ‘recovery’. The process of recovery is accompanied by learning and with the heat of learning ripens the fruit of knowledge which is essential for in-depth self-realization.

Rediscovering Self

What I learned from Wabi-Sabi was something that nudged my inner sensibilities. By wanting to live the same life again, I had blocked the way for new possibilities to show up. I realized my ingratitude towards my present had forbidden me from concentrating on all the blessings I owned. While I was focused on the end result, I had forgotten that the real happiness lied in my journey – How my husband and I had worked relentlessly for years and saved every penny from our salary so we could finally afford a house that we can call ‘our home’? Yes, it was nowhere perfect, but is perfection even attainable? My life had become rough, ambiguous, uneven but nowhere it deserved the harshness I had subjected it to. Wabi-Sabi helped me embrace the wholeness of my present, it taught me acceptance and it offered me solace.

At The Moment

I have slowed down and I experience strange happiness in this slowness. The hustle and the noise don’t bother me much. Every evening, I sit on my porch and write what my heart compels. What you are reading ‘at the moment’ is a compilation of several such evenings…

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