Monday, December 30, 2013

Resolutions and Wabi-Sabi

Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. - Richard Powell

I am someone who makes and tracks New Year's resolutions. I don't know why I had not thought about it before but when did New Year's resolutions get started? A little research turned up that many historians think it began with the Babylonians, then grew in the Roman empire.

One recent study estimates that nearly half of us will make promises to improve ourselves in various ways starting this week. The statistical success rate of said goals : 8 percent. Not very hopeful, is it?

This got me to thinking about wabi-sabi or "imperfect beauty," a Japanese aesthetic philosophy. I learned about wabi-sabi in the 1980s from my friend Sumiko Fujisiro. The concept has its roots in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony and is sometimes explained by using the example of a well-loved teacup, made by an artist's hands, cracked or chipped by use. These cracks and chips remind the observer that nothing is permanent and everything changes. Even fixed objects are subject to change. When my favorite handmade coffee cup got accidentally dropped and cracked, I was sad until I remembered wabi-sabi.  It's the true acceptance of finding beauty in things as they are. Maybe if we embraced how wabi-sabi prizes authenticity instead of perfection, we would have a better success rate than 8 percent.

So I am working on my list of goals for 2014. Keeping it simple and hopefully doable. How about you?

I know one of the ways to be successful is commit your goals to paper (write it down), formulate action items, share with a friend about them and send a weekly progress report are 33 percent more successful. So maybe we should all share and check in! I am determined this year to NOT have any library fines. This year I made it until September and only had a 50 cent fine. It is not about the fine it is about mindfulness for me. I think this will be the year! More on my goals soon!


  1. Karen, in writing my Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) post I suddenly remembered a couple of textile artists who had collaborated with ceramicists in their work, and about whom you might like to know:
    Alice Kettle collaborated with Steve Dixon, Alex McErlain, and Helen Felcay :
    Weaver Ismini Samanidou worked with ceramicist Sharon Blakey on a project described here:

    On the subject of goals for the new year - I generally try to set the tone and overall objective at this time of year, and make my monthly/weekly/daily goals within that umbrella as I proceed. It generally works most of the time! Good luck with your goals, and all good wishes for the upcoming year.

  2. Happy New Year, Karen.

    For myself, I believe in long and short term goals, but not written annual resolutions, and my annual cycle begins with the back-to-school/onset of Indian Summer, not January 1,

    I especially like your phrase about embracing wabi-sabi and authenticity over perfection),


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