The closer things get to non-existence, the more exquisite and evocative they become

Chelsea Market (Beauty Is A Dynamic Event) ©MAIERMOUL
Chelsea Market (Beauty Is A Dynamic Event) ©MAIERMOUL

All things are incomplete. All things, including the universe itself, are in a constant, never-ending state of becoming or dissolving.

Often we arbitrarily designate moments, points along the way, as “finished” or “complete.” But when does something’s destiny finally come to fruition? Is the plant complete when it flowers? When it goes to seed? When the seeds sprout? When everything turns into compost? The notion of completion has no basis in wabi-sabi.

“Greatness” exists in the inconspicuous and the overlooked details. Wabi-sabi represents the exact opposite of the Western ideal of great beauty as something monumental, spectacular, and enduring. Wabi-sabi is not found in nature at moments of bloom and lushness, but at moments of inception or subsiding. Wabi-sabi is not about gorgeous flowers, majestic trees, or bold landscapes. Wabi-sabi is about the minor and the hidden, the tentative and the ephemeral: things so subtle and evanescent they are invisible to vulgar eyes.

The closer things get to non-existence, the more exquisite and evocative they become. Consequently to experience wabi-sabi means you have to slow way down, be patient, and look very closely. Wabi-sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace.

Leonard Koren,  Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers