"wabi-sabi" by Amelhyne O’Regan-Farineau
the discovery of beauty in imperfection.
So often this world strives for perfection. Perfection in our work, our relationships, ourselves, our grades…But perfection is impossible. As heart breaking as that is for many people, it is inevitability true. It can never be accomplished, because you’ll never please everyone and everything, no matter how hard you try. Therefore, nothing can ever truly be the definition of ‘perfect’. In fact, if you look up the definition of perfect in the dictionary, you’ll find this description: ‘completely free of faults or defects; make as good as possible’. Personally, as a writer, I find this a particularly intriguing idea. That no matter how many synonyms you search, how many times you re-read or edit, or how many people you ask for advice, your piece will never be perfect.
It was then, when this realisation dawned on me, that I discovered the word ‘wabi-sabi’ – a Japanese aesthetic which centers on the idea of acceptance in imperfection. It had never occurred to me before, and on further research, I began to understand just how this very word was changing my mind-set of not only my writing, but my definition of perfection.
In this Instagram-aesthetic searching, idealistic, air-brushed world we somehow seem to call reality, it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish truth from fantasy, perfection from false idealisations. The idea behind the word ‘wabi-sabi’ is to look beyond what we see, and find the beauty in what someone or something truly is. Be it a piece of art, an article, an item of clothing, or indeed your appearance, the definition of ‘wabi-sabi’ has us look beyond what is incomplete or the societal understanding of beauty to comprehend the true and unfiltered wonders of what is around and inside of us all.
A Japanese custom is also a great example of this idea – when something is broken, they repair it with gold, to show that our beauty is the strength that lies within. It can also be seen as an opportunity to celebrate. Breakages apply the idea that we have weathered a storm and have come out stronger, wiser and more resilient. Be it physical or emotional scars, shouldn’t we value all our broken parts as trophies of what we have survived and triumphed through, with our healing process plated as gold? This, is the very idea of wabi-sabi. Looking beyond what we see into the true beauty of someone and something that is around us.
I find, especially as young people, we are pressured into looking perfect. Being perfect. But how ridiculous is that? Being young is your opportunity to learn – and the only way to do that is to weather some storms and make some mistakes. Most importantly, learning from those mistakes, mending your cracks with gold. Our scars and imperfections should never be seen as sinful, or regretful, as they are what make us who we are today. We should admire them, as much – if not more than – the price and shining element of gold in the summer sun.
It is an adventure, certainly a lesson, to look beyond what we see and into what true beauty lies within and beneath. To find the graceful elements in all the cracks along ourselves and others. An easy feat? Most definitely not. A worthwhile one? Personally, I think so.
Amelhyne is an 18-year-old writer, podcaster, and photographer from Ireland. She hosts her own podcast called ‘Talk About It’ which focuses on mental health, film, and music for teens and young adults. She also writes a fortnightly article for her regional newspaper and contributes some of her poetry to literary magazines. She is also very passionate about photography. Her passion for photography lies in capturing the everyday moments in life, and the beauty of film, theatre, and music. Her plans are to continue growing her podcast and study journalism over the next year.