Earlier this week I came across an article from Mental Floss called "10 Foreign Words We Need in English". It features words from other languages that don't have a word in English that mean the same thing. They're beautiful in their poetic simplicity and the illustrations that go with them are lovely.
One of my favorites from this list was "wabi-sabi".
Wabi-sabi: n. Finding beauty in the imperfections, an acceptance of the cycle of life and death.
What I love about this word is the simple aesthetic behind it; imperfection is not only acceptable, but beautiful. It's easy for me to be afraid to start something for fear that it won't turn out the way I think it should. But this helps me see that the important part is the journey of creation and what the process teaches me. From the Wiki post for Wabi-sabi: "Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect." In accepting those three things, it feels easier to let go of any fear and just get started. I won't live forever, I will never stop changing and I am not perfect. That thought is liberating.
Recently I started exploring techniques that I'm hoping will help me become more organized, more productive and just happier overall. I wouldn't say that I've been unhappy lately, but I feel like I've been floating around slightly directionless because there's just so much to do and it's hard to know where to start or what should be prioritized. My issues seem to be connected to a lack of focus and inability to do a single thing. I want to multitask because it makes me feel productive but what I'm finding is that it just means I end up doing all of those tasks poorly. I'm playing around with the Pomodoro technique to help me focus on one task at a time. I'll report back soon to say how it's going.
This afternoon I watched an interview with Brett Kelly where he essentially said, "Being busy is not a virtue. It’s a symptom of sucking at something or committing to too many things." It made me choke on my coffee because I'm notorious for talking about how busy I am. Hearing this slapped some sense into me. I'm going to think about this more as I set up the tools I'm using to stay organized by deleting old tasks that I don't really need to do, and not committing to things I know deep down that I don't want to do, this should save room for the important things that bring value to my life.
About a week ago I read an article about minimizing the distractions from your phone and I gave it a try. Since then my phone has become very utilitarian and the only apps I kept are for podcasts, music, task management and email. The only social media app I kept was Instagram because it can push photos to other applications that I removed. I'm really enjoying the results of eliminating most of the chatter from so many notifications and most importantly cutting off the impulse to check what other people are doing. I find myself looking up more, interacting with the world around me and being present in the moment. It's pretty awesome, I highly recommend others try the experiment on their own phone.
Although this might seem completely unrelated to the idea of Wabi-sabi and productivity, I want to share a video I found this week. "Troll" by Shane Koyczan illustrates the emotional abuse which is surfacing everywhere in the form of internet bullying. The people who sow self-doubt and perpetuate anger have always been around, but now they can go everywhere we go, they can follow us to the ends of the earth because they fit inside our pockets.
The video is beautiful and it gave me the resolve to avoid sources of negativity and focus more on what brings me joy. The words are powerful and honest while the artwork is simple and sketchy so it still fits the theme of wabi-sabi.