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February 17, 2009 / Bo Mackison

Rusted Spokes–and a Different Way of Seeing

Wabi-Sabi--First in a Series

Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. –Leonard Cohen

I am working in my photography archives, inspired to begin a new project that celebrates the beauty in the old, the worn, the natural, the simple, the impermanent, the imperfect. The photos reflect the ancient Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, a combination of two words: wabi which translates as humble, and sabi which indicates the beauty found in the natural passing of time. It is an aesthetic which focuses on a gentle acceptance of transience, and of the quality of beauty in ephemeral things.

In part, perhaps wabi-sabi is to the East what beauty in perfection is to the West.

In applying the concept to your life, the practice of wabi-sabi invites you to slow down, attach value to a simpler life-style,  and de-emphasize the material goods in your life. It offers encouragement to find beauty in the unexpected. It provides for a deeper connection with nature, and a deeper connection with the people around you.

The photograph of these rusted spokes is the first in a series. It was taken deep in the woods in a less-traveled part of Door County in northern Wisconsin last summer..


  1. Anna Surface / Feb 17 2009 8:26 am

    Ah! Yes, I resonate and agree as there is “beauty in the old, the worn, the natural, the simple, the impermanent, the imperfect,” as you said. Wabi Sabi… indeed.

    Here is a quote from the book, ‘Living Wabi Sabi-The True Beauty of Your Life’ by Taro Gold: “Appreciation–emotional appreciation, artistic appreciation, appreciation on every level–is an important part of living Wabi Sabi. Appreciation manifests joy. We don’t need to live by some impossible standard to have a joyful, contributive, “enlightened” existence. We don’t need to become someone else or wait until things are “perfect” to appreciate the whole of our lives.” This is a wonderful book on Wabi Sabi, I might add.

    Lovely photo, and great idea for a theme, Bo. 🙂

    • Bo / Feb 19 2009 10:05 pm

      Anna, thanks for adding the quote. I’ll have to check out the book.

  2. Gandalf / Feb 17 2009 8:36 am

    Wonderful photo. I love the symmetry and the texture.

  3. bookbabie / Feb 17 2009 9:04 am

    “…that celebrates the beauty in the old, the worn, the natural, the simple, the impermanent, the imperfect.” Just like me;)

    • Bo / Feb 19 2009 10:07 pm

      Yeah, me too!

  4. Joanna Young / Feb 17 2009 3:15 pm

    This sounds wonderful Bo, I can’t wait to see the rest of the photos.

    I think I need to apply this principle to my exploration of memoir writing – starting with an acceptance of the (many) imperfections of my life…

    • Bo / Feb 19 2009 10:06 pm

      It seems a worthwhile concept to apply to writing, art, life. Thanks, Joanna.

  5. Robin / Feb 17 2009 5:19 pm

    Wonderful image, Bo.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how you explore wabi-sabi in photos. I read about wabi-sabi a couple of years ago, and have been fascinated by the concept ever since.

  6. montucky / Feb 17 2009 5:40 pm

    I love that one, Bo and am looking forward to more in the series!

  7. mon@rch / Feb 17 2009 7:54 pm

    Nice and for some reason rust is such a great natural color!

  8. Marcie / Feb 18 2009 6:53 am

    So interesting to read about wabi-sabi. Finding and accepting beauty in the everyday ordinary is what it’s all about for me. Love the image. Am looking forward to seeing this project unfold.

  9. quinncreative / Feb 19 2009 6:39 pm

    As a deep practitioner of wabi-sabi ways, I’m so pleased to see this series. It’s comforting and beautiful, and fills the eye with great appreciation.

    • Bo / Feb 19 2009 10:03 pm

      That is a lovely compliment, Quinn. Thank you.

  10. fahrrad / Mar 7 2009 9:28 am

    Dies ist ein groer Ort. Ich mchte hier noch einmal.

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