Natural Health

Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.

Add to My MSN

Wabi-Sabi Wednesday: Marking the In-Between Time

9/28/2011 3:27:02 PM

Tags: wabi-sabi, Wabi-Sabi Wednesday, Simply Imperfect, Matuo Basho, Duane Elgin, Voluntary Simplicity, Robyn Griggs Lawrence

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailOn Wabi-Sabi Wednesdays, I've been featuring excerpts from my book, Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi HouseThis is my last Wabi-Sabi Wednesday post for Mother Earth News. Thank you for being part of the community. If you wish to continue the conversation, please check out Simply Imperfect’s Facebook page. 

"My hat has come apart during a long journey.

I am a wabi man

who has tried and known every wabi thing."

—Matsuo Basho, The Winter Days 

Letting go of commitments we’re not fully committed to and stuff we don’t care about (but have to take care of) is a gift greater than gold—and an ability worth cultivating. 

My first taste of simplicity’s promise came from Duane Elgin’s 1981 bestseller, Voluntary Simplicity. Elgin showed me that putting less energy into systems I’d like to see transmogrify gives me more time to focus on what I love. His brand of simple living—consciously chosen, deliberate and intentional—is about paring down possessions to free up time and energy for what really matters. Less stuff means more time to spend with family, friends or nature—a philosophy simple enough for even the most complicated people (like me). Still, the concept was academic until my divorce forced me to move from a house to a townhouse. Only now am I understanding the benefits of downsizing. 

Living in a small space keeps me from acquiring things. I’ve furnished my entire townhouse without ever getting out the credit card. I like sharing amenities, such as the swimming pool, and responsibilities, such as garbage collection, and I like running into neighbors when I walk my dog, Rug. I can walk Rug through pretty, shaded paths within our cluster of townhouses or along a ridge outside my back door, overlooking a valley with a working farm. (At night we hear coyotes.) My tiny back garden is just big enough to grow a couple culinary and medicinal plants and enclose a cozy outdoor conversation spot. I like not battling knotweed or trying to grow grass. Except for storage, my little house has just enough of everything. 

Sometimes I like to sit a while on my back deck, looking out at the wild grasses and the big, open sky, watching the cows graze in the fields beyond. A half hour will go by, the moon will come up, and I’ll just sit. I’ll watch the hawks circle and the ravens scold, and sometimes in late fall pairs of geese fly by, alarmingly low. I sit, an accidental wabibito, enjoying my life’s gifts. 

Every day around sunset, the man who lives at the end of our row shows up in our back window. He stands in the same spot, perfectly framed by our sliding glass doors, wearing khakis and a button-down shirt. In winter he wears a light jacket. For a half hour or so (I’ve never timed him), he leans against the wooden rail fence at the top of the ridge and looks out. When one of us spots him, we mark the in-between moment: time to turn off the computer and put away homework. The man in our view reminds us to stop for a minute and just look. Then it’s time to think about dinner. 


Related Content

Wabi-Sabi Wednesday: 3 of My Favorite Things

A flea market basket that called to me, my grandmother's hand-embroidered linens and a quilt made by...

Wabi-Sabi Wednesday: 7 Wabi Gardens

In a wabi-sabi garden, plants are chosen because they belong in that garden and in that climate, and...

Wabi-Sabi Wednesday: Simple, Natural Cleaning

Your simply imperfect arsenal for getting the whole house clean--naturally.

Wabi-Sabi Wednesday: Remembering a Good Home

My old wabi-sabi home stood witness to celebration, sorrow, our children’s first words and fumbling ...

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Dulantha Dassanayake
11/17/2011 12:18:16 PM
Living close to the nature is great, and it is really progressive.

Robyn Lawrence
9/29/2011 3:32:51 PM
Thanks so much, Russell! It's been such a privilege to share this with you all.

Russell Mahan
9/29/2011 5:29:22 AM
Robyn - Thanks for writing this column. Good luck in your future activities.

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.