Collecting moments, Wabi Sabi Wales.
When I am away from Wales I experience a longing for something intangible, a bittersweet feeling of
loss. Some may call it ‘hiraeth’: an indescribable nostalgia and homesickness for this country. The
Japanese have a term that is similarly difficult to translate directly: ‘wabi sabi’, used to communicate
an acceptance of the transient nature of life, its perfect imperfections, its simple and melancholic
beauty. Away from Wales, I feel hiraeth, but being here I have begun to see and appreciate wabi
sabi everywhere: in the rough beauty of the landscape, the humility of the people and in the warmth
of the welcome home.
The beauty we find in the natural world and its processes has the power to make us feel humble. In
Japan, traditionally, the tea houses purposefully have very small doors, called ‘nijiriguchi’, which
cause you to bow as you enter. This tiny moment is a quiet signal to feel humility, become present,
and to pay attention to the moments awaiting you on the other side of the threshold. This summer I
started to practice mental bowing before I entered a space, whether it be a friend’s house, a
churchyard or a hospital. It gives me a pause to consider the people I am to meet, the objects I am to
see, the labour and history that has brought them to this place in this time. The poignant moments
of passing beauty of wabi sabi Wales.