Broken yet beautiful.
Broken yet beautiful.

Wabi-sabi

I spend a lot of time subtly reinforcing our family values to my kids, mostly big picture stuff like the significance of honesty, peace and art. This weekend, however, I had an unexpected teaching moment, and I got to introduce a concept to my son that’s not on the A-list of family values, but delivers an interesting and important message.

During a frantic cleaning session -- one of my famous feng shui freak outs -- I broke a small drinking glass on the bathroom floor. It cracked into about eight large shards, and my 7-year-old was fascinated by the sound, the shatter and the appearance. He crouched down and looked at the sharp clear pieces like he was observing a bug on a leaf in the garden.

"Be careful," I said, going into robotic mom mode. "Don’t cut yourself!"

"It looks really cool," he said. "Like the kaleidoscope."

I was already running for the broom and dust pan, but I stopped, turned around and went back into the bathroom. I asked him if he had heard the words "wabi-sabi," and he said no.

"It’s Japanese. It means sometimes things that are broken are still beautiful," I said. He looked at me, then blinked slowly which made me think he was really thinking about the concept.

I had never thought about "wabi-sabi" as something I wanted to teach my sons, but suddenly, I was glad to mention it, especially if they are perfectionists filled with expectation like so many of us.

Thanks to my busy, cross-it-off-the-list life, I probably miss many moments like this. Hence, I was glad to have been present enough to catch this opportunity, and I hope I learned from it.

Talkbacks

devidia | Oct. 13, 2009 at 12:45 p.m. (report)

Wow. Cute article, Molly. It's like a life lesson in a nutshell. I've never heard of that term, either. You've given me something to think about as well. Thanks!!

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