Though “wabi sabi” sounds like something a stoked-out surfer might exclaim after getting spit out the back end of a totally tubular barrel ride- it isn’t. Wabi sabi is an element of Japanese philosophy relating to the Japanese practice of Kintsugi. Kintsugi is an ancient practice of putting the broken pieces of pottery back together with epoxy mixed with gold, platinum, or silver. Rather than disguising, discarding, or destroying something because it has fallen apart, the practices of wabi sabi and kintsugi focus on restoration, creating something new out of the experience. Within every strength is a weakness. Within every weakness is a strength.
Robin Griggs Lawerence writes for Utne, practicing wabi-sabi doesn’t require anything in particular, just that “It takes a mind quiet enough to appreciate muted beauty, courage not to fear bareness, willingness to accept things as they are- without ornamentation. It depends on the ability to slow down, to shift the balance from doing to being, to appreciating rather than perfecting.”
Our worlds are already beautiful. Who we are as men who are part of the natural world, is already beautiful. Focusing on what looks like broken pieces means focusing on the space between those pieces. A shattered plate is a mosaic representation of a plate. Has it lost the essence of being a plate? Is it no longer a plate if it is a plate that is within pieces? A man who has found himself addicted to drugs and alcohol can quickly fall into the space between the pieces when he focuses on them. Is a man who has become addicted to drugs and alcohol no longer a man? Of course not. He is still whole, though he may not feel that way. He is still part of the world, though he may not believe it. Through treatment and care, he can adopt this critical philosophy: he is not broken.
Kintsugi is comprised of multiple practices, writes Val Jon Farris for Huffington Post. “Kintsugi’s first essential practice is to set aside our self-defeating emotional conclusions,” which are the many “stories” he says we tell ourselves about the impossibility of our circumstances and “…how impossible it is for us to recover…” he explains. For example, being addicted to drugs and alcohol means being “an addict” and an “addict” cannot recover. “Rather than our wounds being only destructive,” Farris emphasizes, “the moment we realize they are also constructive, we cross the threshold from the impossible to the possible.”
Recovery is a possibility for every man and has tangibility for he who seeks it. Within the lifestyle of recovery and the daily disciplines of sobriety, there are infinite possibilities. At Tree House, we do not accept the “broken” narrative. We keep it wabi-sabi, appreciating each and every client for who they are at the exact moment of where they are in their journey.
Tree House Recovery is a men’s residential addiction treatment facility in Portland, Oregon. Our programs of recovery create sustainable recovery through sustainable change, helping men find freedom from addiction. Call us today for information: (503) 850-2474