So, I (Carol) am going to be teaching a study abroad class in Japan next summer. Cool, I know, especially given my love of all things Japanese: gardens, kindness, other-centeredness, simplicity, tradition. Ah … Nihonjinron (日本人論): things uniquely Japanese! I love em all: raked-rock gardens, bowing to respect, neatly wrapped packages and, one of the best: Japanese masking tape. SO cool.

In my preparations for the Japan course I came across a concept that at first struck me as quite profound. This morning as I awoke to the usual Saturdays tasks of laundry, more laundry, gardening (in the rain), the Target list, the grocery list, kids and their homework, kids and the thank you cards that need to be written, kids and … well … reminding them/urging them/prompting (threatening?) them to do all the things they should be doing (helping me with the laundry?), it struck me that Wabi Sabi is HUGELY profound for making happiness in our relationships.

Wabi Sabi? It’s one of those concepts that I’m sure I don’t quite fully understand – nor ever can – because I’m a U.S. American and I’m not Buddhist. Regardless, I like to try it out in various aspects of my life. Today, I’m trying it out with my family and hubby.

Wabi Sabi is an aesthetic – a world view – which sees beauty in even the “odd” or “annoying” or “imperfect” things. Wabi Sabi is seeing beauty all around, even in those things that are “imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.” Ah … marriage! Ah … friendship. Kids! Laundry! Family! Imperfect. incomplete. And because they’re always changing and dynamic: impermanent.

Wabi Sabi is a way of thinking, seeing, believing and being. It’s an appreciation of the “ingenuous integrity of natural processes.” Ah … natural processes! LIke relating to and living with other people for years and even decades. Like marriage and long-term partnership. Like dirty laundry and lists and needing to eat three times a day. At times they’re all annoying (so many meals to make; so few ideas!). But with Wabi Sabi, they are beautiful … even when they’re irritating.

What if we had a Wabi Sabi world view on all the little things that drive us crazy about our children, spouses, partners and extended family? They wouldn’t actually drive us crazy, that’s what. We’d see their natural uniqueness, gentle beauty, and inherently wonderful while incomplete qualities (lying on the sofa while we do the cleaning; avoiding writing thank you cards until they see the veins pulsating out of mother’s forehead; throwing clean clothes down the laundry shoot because it’s faster than hanging them in the closet again).

What if? What if??? I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going for me. For now … I’m signing off to go enjoy some of that imperfect and really stinky laundry. And accept the transience of the tasks that lie ahead on a beautiful, warm, humid rainy Saturday morning in Minnesota.

May you find some Wabi and Sabi in your life too.