wabi sabi

my fingernails are painted. i realize that this may not seem like a big deal to anyone reading this, what with millions of women running around in various shades of nail polish at this very moment. but for me this represents something more than simply a color choice. this means that i actually had (and took) the time to sit patiently and do nothing more than casually flip through a magazine while they dried.

now, it is not news to me that my life had become way.too.crazy. i've talked about it recently in this space, and over the past few weeks, taken great strides toward a simpler lifestyle. but every time i look down at my hands i can barely recognize those elegant fingers. this simple act reflects all of the simple pleasures i have neglected since life got so hectic.

right now i am sitting in the bed of a 29-foot RV in the middle of the afternoon, eating a nutritious snack and staring out at the clouds over the mountains. i am surrounded by simple beauty...there are few buildings in this area, no noise, pollution, distractions. life is slower here in west texas. d and i eat delicious meals we can prepare in two pans on our RV stove, with fresh ingredients packed into the tiny fridge. i see that we don't need much to be happy (and i knew this to be true before we ever left houston). painted nails and my mountain bike, good pens and books to read, healthy food and afternoon kisses.

i am happy here. with the slow pace and sun streaking the sky following an afternoon rain shower. with time to write and take photo walks--and free wifi, of course--a technologically advanced "simple life." my cousin bought me a subscription to whole living magazine as a thank you gift for her recent visit (yes, she is that thoughtful!) an article i read today discussed the concept of wabi sabi, an ancient zen philosophy which celebrates the beauty in life's imperfection. the freedom in abandoning our western idea of perfect is very intriguing to me, both in a physical and emotional sense.

i believe that these past six months have been about my transformation closer to this idea of embracing imperfection. of finding out for myself what is real and celebrating all of the quirks that make me unique. that i like to paint my nails and then go get muddy on the mountain bike trails. that i can love my dad fiercely, yet hold a near polar-opposite life philosophy. that i can be a responsible adult and not have a 401k.

the past six months have taught me that life is much simpler when i make decisions based on my values and expectations for myself rather than someone else's, or worse--society's. this wabi sabi concept appeals to me because it validates that life is incomplete, unfinished. i've always thought that my life would be perfect once i:
a) found a rewarding career
b) met my soul mate
c) completed a triathlon, took a creative writing course, planned a vacation...

but once i had all of these checked off my list, i still felt incomplete. now i see that that's the point. there will always be things to add to the list. and that's the beauty of life. i will always be growing, living, learning--it never ends. but what needs to end is the expectation that i can do it on someone else's timeline, or to someone else's specifications. i will always make mistakes, i will never be perfect.

to live authentically, i need to simplify my life in line with my deepest held beliefs. pare it down to just a few basics, those things i simply cannot live without. and i'm getting there. slowly, clumsily, imperfectly...i'm getting there.


  1. Amen. I just wrote about that "simple" living. Must be on our brains a lot.
    And that snack? My favorite. Add some pomegranite seeds to it and would be perfect.

  2. AMEN sister!!! I thought all those things as well...I'll be complete 'when'.

    and you know what, I'm not. I'm realizing it's deeper than a certain income or a type of job.