Wabi Sabi

Embracing imperfection. After a recent Did Noting Fatal (DNF) at a local 50k at mile marker 29.5 for what turned out to be heat exhaustion and dehydration requiring a trip to the local ER for some IV’s, I have taken a step back to look at my relationship with running.  Heading into the race, I had a really great training cycle for me with several 50 mile weeks in the midst of my own kids finishing up their travel soccer season’s and with graduating the seniors that I work and closing the doors on another year as a high school principal. Closing in on race day I was ready to rock until my body crumbled under a hot spell that covered the Metro Detroit area like a wet blanket come.

Wabi Sabi is a aesthetic Zen Buddhist philosophy that celebrating the flaws and imperfections and appreciating the beauty it all.  This idea is reflected in Kinsugi, which is a Japanese method for repairing broken things with a gold lacquer making them stronger and more beautiful than before.

Laying in the ER with the stench of 6 plus hours of running trails, a dark brown urine sample on the counter next to me, and an IV hooked up to my right arm with my wife shaking her head at me, I was broken. The searing heat that day had exposed my flaws and imperfections in my training. Most of my runs in order to fit them in are in the early morning under the cover of darkness. I didn’t think that I would be exposed to long to the heat to make a difference, I was wrong.

In the past, I would cast a spotlight on myself and throw a pity party that could go on for days. A foul mood was cheering from the sideline. Not this time.

Instead, I have been chewing on and kicking around this idea of Wabi Sabi and of rebuilding my running  in the Kintsugi manner. Forget the frown and take the view that there is good in this. That my imperfections and flaws are beautiful. There was a reason this happened and that a DNF maybe was really the outcome that was necessary.

Moving through our lives on a daily basis, how often do we connect and are present with our mind and body? Are able to be present, to be mindful, or do we need to have the walls come crashing down for us to listen?

Wabi Sabi is about embracing and owning those imperfections. That through Kintsugi, something that was broken and when put back together is more beautiful because of its differences than in it’s original form.


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