Years ago, when I was trying to briefly introduce the principle of wabi-sabi to my friend Jana, she sighed: “What a pity that wabi-sabi way of seeing the beauty of imperfection, cannot be applied to us, to our wrinkles.”But why not? It actually calls itself for a much more positive view of our gradual loss of youth, or of our inevitable ageing.
Wabi-sabi refers to a deeper perception of inner beauty and life itself, of the beauty of imperfection, impermanence, melancholy. It is not based on youth and flourishing, but rather it believes that everything is always more beautiful when it reveals signs of the time and its individuality.
Why are we constantly dealing with the question of our ageing?
The average age is constantly prolonging, medicine is constantly making new discoveries, the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry is bombarding us with new and more effective rejuvenating agents and other anti-ageing products, awareness of the need to maintain our physical fitness level increases. Still, we are negatively pointing to our ageing increasingly early. Increasingly earlier we observe (or even search for) those small external changes on us – shortcomings and we are struggling to fight them earlier and earlier. But most of all we are worrying about them. And that even for decades before we really are close to being old.
In nature, everything is in the state of a process (and later of disintegration), and we are simply not excluded from this process. Maybe it sounds cruel, but it reminds us that everything is just temporary and we should, therefore, appreciate our life in present time. We might be struggling with the loss of youth by the end of our life, or enjoy the constant increase in the perspective we gain over time.
Written lines of the story of our life
We do not have to look at our wrinkles only as signs of loss of skin firmness and density but as a consequence of the rich story of our life. Our life story, after all, is externally reflected not only in our wrinkles but also in our other small or large external “imperfections” that we are gradually collecting during our lives. It can be scars from the injury in our favourite sport or from another type of accident, thanks to which we learned something new about ourselves or about people around us. And even the scratches from our enthusiastic gardening, perhaps even small burns on our hands, after we carelessly took something good for our loved ones out of the oven. Even these are the lines of the story of our life.
Return time, yes or no?
But despite the above mentioned, when I look in the mirror in the morning and I see that the circles under my eyes will probably never disappear, even after a good night’s sleep and those lines on the face are not just a temporary thump of the pillow… it’s a little (or big?) internal fight.
So, after that, I rather try to focus only on the reflection of my eyes. It does not seem that they bear such signs of time (look once again at the picture of the native American woman at the beginning of this article). Sometimes I see the teenage or twenty-something-year-old girl who is trying to get oriented in the world, has her dreams and ideas. But most of all, when I look in the eyes reflection, I can recall all the good things I have ever experienced in my life so far, but also even the worse and bad things that I had to manage and I had successfully survived. And I see how richer my life today is, compared to the time 10, 20, 30 years ago.
No, I´m not going to throw away my day and night creams, nor the corrector. And yes, I know I have to eat less sweet and exercise more and …. to take care of myself all the way so that I can feel good even in ten, twenty and more years from now on. But if I would have the choice – to look like in my twenties or to know what I know today? I think I know what my choice would be.
And what about you?