Meet Wabi-Sabi


Awhile back, when we were still in London, Dan and I took a break from work and wandered around Soho. We ended up in an artist supply shop where I fought off my instinct to buy yet another blank notebook (seriously, how many do I need?) and instead picked up this little guy.

He's from the same family as the wooden hand and physique models used in drawing classes in lieu of actual naked people. We kept him at the office for awhile and I came up with the name Wabi-Sabi, likely inspired by some design book Dan was reading about Japanese design. As he didn't really mesh with the minimal office decor, Wabi-Sabi eventually made his way home to our London flat, where he lived very comfortably on a shelf in the living room.

When I was packing for this trip, I threw out, sold or gave away a lot of things I really like so I have no idea why this ridiculous wooden cat made the cut. I enjoy the idea of photographing him at all the different places we'll be visiting and I kind of like his scowly face. I miss having pets and although Wabi-Sabi is a poor substitution, I kind of like having him around our mascot.

Although when I named him I had no idea we would be doing this year of travel, his name seems appropriate - a good omen to follow us around the world. From Wikipedia:
Wabi-sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is 'imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.' It is a concept derived from the Buddhist assertion of the Three marks of existence, specifically impermanence ... Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, modesty, intimacy, and the suggestion of natural processes. 
Although our first lay-over in Arizona has been nothing if not comfortable, the lack of stuff and ownership over my environment is a struggle that I only imagine will become more pronounced as our surroundings become less familiar and less luxurious. My natural inclination is to try to control my environment, so this is occasionally a tricky endeavour for me. Hopefully Wabi-Sabi (the cat) will serve as a reminder for me to really look at these new places and people and appreciate their imperfect, impermanent beauty, take a deep grateful breath, and then move on.

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