I spent this week taking care of leaves.
If you live on the east coast or any area with deciduous trees, you know the struggle. Hours and hours of leaf-blowing, mulching, raking, bagging, and trips to the collection site. At the end of the day, I looked out on everything, proud and ready to accept high fives and cheers from the neighbors, and that’s when mother nature laughs and shakes the trees one more time, making a fresh layer of fallen leaves. Everything appears as if I was never there. I slump my shoulders and go inside, somewhat melancholy.
As a westerner aiming for perfection and domination of nature, it’s frustrating.
But to an easterner, and especially the Japanese, it’s wabi-sabi. Wabi 侘 (imperfection) and sabi 寂 (transience) are highly treasured ideals and even more so, they are cornerstones of beauty.
Westerners seek plastic surgery to make an old face appear young. In Japan, a wrinkled face is respected for its wisdom and character.
A bowl that falls on the floor and cracks goes into an American’s garbage. In Japan, it is restored and joined with gold as a kintsugi 金継ぎ.
A good Christmas tree is one that is perfectly symmetrical with no flaws, even plastic if need be. A highly valued bonsai, in contrast, shows age, struggle, and imperfection, and is passed down among generations.
In the west, we embrace fast fashion, cheaply made disposable clothes. What if instead, we owned cherished pieces of clothing, crafted with care, mended and repaired over a lifetime?
And what if we applied wabi-sabi to everything? What if we allowed things to be a work in progress, allowed to fail, iterate, and evolve? And shouldn’t we do that with our deepest treasures especially?
The Zcash community should know well of wabi-sabi. Zcash has age. It has character. It’s been attacked. It has problems with syncing wallets and ease of use. Zcash is continuously improving. Many of us have used Zcash to pay for goods and services. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes not so well.
Real life is not perfect.
Wabi-sabi is an admission to that.