How do we define wellness? Culturally, we think of youth and virility; the symmetry of a face; the layout of parterres in a French garden. Wellness is beautiful and orderly.
Let’s extend the meaning of beautiful to encompass that which is fragile, marred, unique, aged. By expanding that definition, we can embrace the beauty in each of us, no matter how old, how sick, how broken or how fragile.
This idea originates in the East. In 1488, Murata Jukō formalized the tea ceremony in Japan in a letter known as the Letter of the Heart. In it, he sets forth the aesthetic of wabi-sabi, and praises the half moon over the full moon for the play of shadows. He elevates the value of the ephemeral, the soft and the delicate.
In the west, beauty reveres perfection, eternity, universality, order, youth, symmetry and math.
The eastern concept of beauty/wabi-sabi reveres imperfection, impermanence, aged, fragile, the marred and the melancholy.
This concept has made me feel more beautiful – in my age, in my individuality and in my body.
I highly recommend this terrific video from the School of Life; less than 9 minutes on the concept and history of wabi-sabi in a concise and entertaining manner. You’ll also learn about the origins of the Japanese tea ceremony as well as the father of haiku.
And I encourage you to actively look to find beauty within this expanded definition. Beauty is more than in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is in the wider eye. And the wiser eye.