I’ve been on a quest lately to accept imperfection. As an artist, I’m constantly battling my inner perfectionism. It’s my career to make things aesthetically pleasing, yet most of the time my personal life can’t stand up to the pressure. Do you ever feel that way? The voice may start small: “This house is a wreck! We’re never going to host a dinner party again”, but soon a larger cultural pressure chimes in saying “your parties will never look like the ones on social media”. Gosh dang it, Pinterest!
So where do we find balance? Is it still possible to host people at your home and have fun doing it? I believe the answer is yes, but with a caveat: keep your perspective in check. I️ came across an article this week with a built-in “ah ha” moment. The article discussed the Japanese lifestyle mantra “Wabi Sabi”. It’s like Feng Shui-ing your mindset. Created in the 15th Century, early practitioners reminded people to simplify and embrace the imperfect. Robyn Griggs Lawrence, Editor of Natural Home magazine describes this difficult-to-translate state of mind like this:
Wabi-Sabi is everything that today’s sleek, mass-produced, technology-saturated culture isn’t. It’s flea markets, not shopping malls; aged wood, not swank floor coverings; one single morning glory, not a dozen red roses… It celebrates cracks and crevices and rot and all the other marks that time and weather and use leave behind. To discover wabi-sabi is to see the singular beauty in something that may first look decrepit and ugly.
Woah. Well, I may have baby toys everywhere, but at least my dining room isn’t decrepit and ugly!! I think a Wabi Sabi mindset would counter: “so what if it is?” Similarly, to fully embrace the art of hospitality, one must be ready to be vulnerable, with yourself and with your home. The perceived shortcomings may ultimately be what makes the party a great one. A well lived-in home for example ALWAYS puts me at ease when I arrive somewhere new. (Inner monologue: “oh good! I can stop pretending I don’t have a gigantic mail pile too!) The more you host, the more you can reciprocate that back to your guests too. When I started hosting again after having a baby, I ultimately had to make the decision, do I want to apologize for the mess every time this person comes over or do I just want to be myself? Take it or leave it, this is who I am. (Or maybe more mildly – “This is the real test of our friendship – I hope our messiness doesn’t run you away!”) The decision to be true to myself (and embrace a Wabi-Sabi way of life) has served me far better than being “Pinterest Ready” ever could. I have a close, understanding group of friends who know the true me and find beauty in my imperfection. I would call that southern hospitality success.