Probably we’ve all heard the teaching stories – the ones that make us all nod as if we know something, the ones that make us mutter aphorisms and wisdom-words at each other about the consequences of greed and getting more and more.
The stories are usually about some guy sitting all alone in a big old mansion on a hill somewhere. He has everything and yet he feels like he has nothing.
(Usually the tale is about a guy, but, really, we could easily substitute a gal in there instead these days.)
Here’s a thought: Maybe it wasn’t greed that led that lonely one down the road to Empty. Maybe he or she just didn’t recognize when they had gotten to “Enough” and just kept on going.
As a Perfectionist in remission, I am here to tell you that wabi-sabi — a Japanese way of seeing the world — works as an antidote to the never-good-enough, shiny-new-thing madness induced by the classical hyper-focus on perfection and the kind of seamless orderliness that arises from the mathematical, mechanical precision that evolved in the super-industrialized Occidental West where more is always better.
I grew up in a pineapple plantation camp on Molokai. Many of my neighbors were Issei, first-generation immigrants from Japan, who brought it with them from their homeland. I was marinated in wabi-sabi.