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Wabi-Sabi and Kintsugi Japanese pottery.

Wabi-sabi is a lovely Japanese concept – the appreciation of the beauty found in imperfection and an understanding of the transient nature of things. Wabi refers to the rustic simplicity of a thing, and Sabi refers to the beauty and peacefulness that comes with its aging. It also refers to an object’s patina and visible repairs.

There is even an art form in Japan called Kintsugi, in which valued pottery is repaired with gold.

I love the respectfulness of treating the wear and tear and repair as part of the history of an object. I have been thinking about this because I broke my wrist last month.

I told no one for weeks. I felt embarrassed by it and was secretly worried friends would think I was accident prone. I was also worried people would lecture me about how dangerous they think motorcycles are, or they would tell me this “is what happens when you get old.” I didn’t want to hear either.

After my orthopedist assured me my bones were “good and strong, and this would have happened to anyone, of any age, under the circumstances,” I finally made peace with the situation by choosing a cobalt blue fiberglass cast, then making a joke of it on social media!image

Here is the lesson of Wabi-sabi: Everything is impermanent, and nothing is perfect. In life, things come along that cause us to stumble or to fall down (literally and figuratively), but I know I will pick myself up and go on.

I’ve been envisioning the broken bone in my wrist, mended with gold. Judging by the medical bills, that may well be the case! Now, more than ever, I can appreciate Sabi – the wear and tear that comes with aging-and choose to see it applied not only to objects, but also to all of us when we live our lives fully.

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Donna O’Klock spent 35 years in the beauty business, talking, teaching, and learning. These days, she’d “rather write than talk. It’s better that way because I can edit.” She writes two blogs, and, and is the author of  Sick and Tired & Sexy: Living Beautifully with Chronic Illness.

Austin, Texas, has been her home since 1978, but she and her fiancé have downsized and are traveling the country in their RV.

13 thoughts on “Wabi-sabi”

  1. Beautiful post, Donna! The Bible talks about how God is like a gold or silversmith, tempering us, making us stronger through the wears and tears of life. We’re absolutely like the Kintsugi pottery, mended with gold. xoxox, Brenda

    • I really appreciate the image of “God as my goldsmith.” Thank you so much for that, Brenda!

    • Now that you mention it, Penny, we may be “worth our weight in gold!” Haha!
      Thank you for the awareness.

  2. I remember my almost grandmother (I claimed her as such) told me one time that being alone was sometimes better than having children when you were older. When I asked what she meant, her words were, “Because your kids are always telling you you shouldn’t be trying something, or doing something. You need to respect/act your age.” I hope you keep riding your motorcycle, Donna.

    • Oh, thank you! My sweetheart was looking at new foot pegs and a comfier backrest for me today, hoping to entice me back on as soon as possible!
      As far as I can tell, we are all acting our age. Or, our idea of it, right? I love that our idea is so youthful and alive!
      Thank you for your blessing!

  3. I love the idea of Wabi Sabi (perhaps we all do as we age!) I remember when I brought home my new car, I got a big dent in it within the first week. It was so very freeing. Imperfection can be a good thing!

    • You know, Jen, I had that same experience when I brought home my first new car. Anxiety, then…freedom.
      Now, I have it every time I get a pedicure and mess up my polish by the time I get in my car.
      Thank you for the big smile!

  4. What a beautiful visual, Donna! “Golden glue!” We’ve earned it by now, haven’t we?

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