You’re reading an excerpt of Creative Doing, by Herbert Lui. 75 practical techniques to unlock creative potential in your work, hobby, or next career. Purchase now for instant, lifetime access to the book.
One powerful antidote to over-obsession is accepting that imperfection is the essence of nature itself. The Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi embodies this theme. Author Beth Kempton translates the two words in her book, Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life: “Wabi is about finding beauty in simplicity, and a spiritual richness and serenity in detaching from the material world. Sabi is more concerned with the passage of time, with the way that all things grow and decay and how aging alters the visual nature of those things.”
With the understanding of the etymology, Kempton describes the concept the two words convey:
Wabi sabi is an intuitive response to beauty that reflects the true nature of life.
Wabi sabi is an acceptance and appreciation of the impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete nature of everything.
Wabi sabi is a recognition of the gifts of simple, slow, and natural living.
Wabi sabi is a state of the heart. It is a deep in-breath and a slow exhale. It is felt in a moment of real appreciation—a perfect moment in an imperfect world.
We must accept that each imperfection is not a failure; rather, in wabi sabi fashion, each one makes the piece perfectly imperfect. Otherwise, obsession becomes a prescription for failure. An expectation or obsession for quality does not necessarily always result in it.
Find Your Comfort
To take risks and get out of your comfort zone has practically become a virtue of modern life. This book is no exception to that, with prompts on releasing your work, getting feedback, and exploring your own creative capacity.
As your journey continues, you might find that finding a ritual, prompt, or environment that makes you comfortable can support you in exploring your art and maintaining your creative process. Finding your comfort means noticing when you get into the groove with the work, and potentially developing warm-up routines to support that.
Michelle Kuo says being relaxed during the creative process is really important. “It’s not pure relaxation, it’s like relaxation plus a little bit of tension,” she says in an interview for this book. “I was taking these singing classes. I really adored my singing teacher, and she used to say this thing that always stuck with me, which is: to hit the high notes you have to be relaxed. Most people tense up when they see a high note coming, but actually to hit it, your breath needs to be relaxed.”
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