Baxter Black on Wabi-Sabi
I was at the sale barn recently and heard one farmer say to another, "Feng shui is passé." "I know," said the second, stuffing a cabbage-sized wad of Redman in his cheek, "Wabi Sabi is back."
I thought, Chinese food? Exotic cattle? Martial arts? A new Secretary of the United Nations? No...a style for decor, as in Louie the XIV, Tudor or Southwestern.
While Feng Shui represents neatness, clean lines and proper placement, Wabi Sabi embodies the idea that imperfection is beautiful; that flaws enhance rather than detract.
Imagine a new milking parlor, a new feedlot or a veal barn; shiny silver rails, painted walls, pipe fence, sparkling dials, clean floors, well-lighted, easy access, heavily financed...Feng Shui.
Now picture a rusting, one tongue manure spreader filled with flowers, your dad's old spittoon holding flowers, or a weathered old boot containing flowers...Wabi Sabi.
I can think of many examples of Feng Shui operations. The vegetable farmers in Colorado and California that farm right up to the edge of the house. In the spring it almost looks like they prune each plant so they look exactly alike...or those farms in Iowa or Tennessee where each lawn is 2 1/2 sections and they mow it right up to the highway. Or any small Mormon town in Utah; houses painted, fences tight and rose bushes trimmed, picture perfect.
So, you must be thinking, that means I'm not a too tired, too poor, too tight, too dumb farmer...I am merely practicing Wabi-Sabi. Sorry, boys, one of the rules: "If you thought the `life experience' of the '86 Plymouth up on blocks in your front yard made it more beautiful, that would be Wabi Sabi. But if you couldn't afford any better, or were too lazy to move it, that would not."
There would appear to be a fine line between Wabi-Sabi and poor facilities, i.e., a broken latch on a swingin' gate that you've been baler twining since your daughter went off to college, a box of dull drill bits that are gathering dust beside the Drill Doctor, or the tangled mane of the old horse you turned out last fall.
Maybe as one gets older the more we value Wabi Sabi; the carving knife that grows smaller every year, the dogs that get grayer, the pickup that just keeps puttering along, the fallin' down fence your dad built, the unused clothesline, all things you could easily replace but somehow, you don't. Because you look at yourself in the mirror every day and, without your glasses you can't see the wrinkles quite so easily or the hair growing out of your ears. And you like to think you've still got a lot of life left in you, like that new saddle with the leather worn smooth that you bought...however many years ago.
It dawns on me, I'm not just practicing Wabi Sabi, I'm it!
Wabi-sabi, speaks of the beauty of things that are imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.
I'll leave you with that thought and will prepare for my next post on the field trip that I took yesterday. It was lots of fun for me, but slightly embarrassing for my entourage (my daughter).