Wabi-sabi is the quintessential Japanese aesthetic. It is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional . . . . It is also two separate words, with related but different meanings. “Wabi” is the kind of perfect beauty that is seemingly-paradoxically caused by just the right kind of imperfection, such as an asymmetry in a ceramic bowl which reflects the handmade craftsmanship, as opposed to another bowl which is perfect, but soul-less and machine-made. “Sabi” is the kind of beauty that can come only with age, such as the patina on a very old bronze statue. Reading those words on Wiki Wiki Web soothed the ever-shrinking perfectionist in me. As I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve come to embrace the notion that some things in life are actually better when they are not perfect.
For example, rows of tiny striations marred the smooth surface of a pair of shiny, black, patent leather footwear I purchased six months ago. Noticing the striations, I became distressed. “How could this be? I’ve only worn them to work a few times! Is it too late to return these shoes? Can they be repaired?” were the thoughts making noises in my head. Knowing that the shoe manufacturer was a reputable one, I did a little online research. I happily found out that a warranty policy existed, but the manufacturer would need to inspect my footwear to determine whether or not the striations were a warranty-related issue. Emailing the manufacturer a close-up photo of the striations was a possible first step. Using my little point and shoot digital camera, I snapped several close-up shots. As the photos were downloading to my computer, I saw images of dark, blue-black ripples combined with rust-colored areas. Art can be found in amazing places! Upon closer examination, I liked how the dirt speckles gave the photo a feeling of texture and how the strong diagonal line created by the rough rubber sole and the horizontal line created by the suede stitching both led my eyes to the largest rust-colored image. You’ve probably guessed by now that the photo that many of you have been staring at for the last two weeks is nothing more than a close-up of the striations on my footwear and that the rust-colored areas are nothing more than the reflections of my hands holding the camera.
From comments I’ve received, I’m guessing this was a challenging mystery photo. Sorry, for some reason I thought this one was going to be easier than the last! But thanks to all of you who participated in the contest and submitted guesses. Without a doubt, I think my readers have some of the most creative minds out there. But alas, there can only be one winner. So without further ado, I would like to congratulate Ella L. for winning the Birthday Contest! Your prize, a set of handmade cards, inserts, envelopes, and adhesive, will be mailed to you soon! Hope you enjoy the cards as much as I enjoyed making them!
What about my footwear with the striations? Bowing to the philosophy of wabi-sabi, I respect the perfection of their imperfection and they’re still in my closet.