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Banishing the "P" word with Wabi-sabi

I took the girls out on Nordic skis yesterday. Though they both have years of alpine skiing under their belts, this was the first time they strapped into a pair of cross-country skis. As with any new endeavor, it took awhile for them to get the hang of it. There were a lot of falls, some tears...a few poles were thrown...but in the end they had a blast, and we all laughed a lot.

At one point on our trek across the groomed course, my youngest (5 years old), fell going down a small hill and screamed in frustration "I am just not doing it perfect". Woah. She dropped the "P" word. She generally runs more type A than the rest of us, and definitely thrives on knowing she is doing a good job...but it hurt my soul to hear her voice her frustration that she wasn't "perfect".

Our kids are being raised in a society that values the idea of perfection. Perfect pictures, perfect clothing and hair, perfect homes, perfect cars, perfect grades at school. When we are immersed in the pursuit of perfection, we are destined for a life of stress and disappointment. Nothing is perfect.

How can we help our kids, and ourselves, lean away from perfect?

This is where nature and exposure to play and the natural world is so important. Nature is imperfect. There are no perfect piles of rocks, perfectly straight rivers, or perfect stands of trees. There is no perfect way to go for a hike, or kayak down a river, or skin up a mountain. Trees grow sideways to seek the sun and twist their trunks so that they can stand tall in a wind storm. Jumbles of rocks provide great shelter for animals. Things are knocked down, leaves fall off of trees, and storms roll through.

Our kids need the space to play and explore and make mistakes and know that is is okay to not be "perfect" and that seeming imperfections are beautiful, and functional, and that this is where amazing ideas are born. What's more, we need to ditch the "P" word. Things can be "great", "awesome", "amazing", "super cool", "beautiful"...but nothing is perfect.

Try and point out the imperfections you see in nature and why they are so amazing. We are all a part of the natural world, and knowing that the natural world is imperfect, makes you realize it is okay for us to be imperfect as well.

Wabi-Sabi is the Japanese notion that embraces the idea of imperfection. It loosely means that things are left unfinished to leave room for imagination and growth. Are the spaces not exactly even between the photos in your wall collage? Wabi-sabi. Didn't get all the questions right on your math test? Wabi-sabi - let's practice more and see where we can improve. Forget to add the salt to your dinner recipe? Wabi-sabi - we'll get it next time.

Back to the skiing...we chatted for a few minutes and I explained that no one is perfect (she claimed that some long time nordic friends can ski "perfectly"), and that all we can do is have fun and keep trying to improve. Practice makes better, not, practice makes perfect. Wabi-sabi.

Stay Wild and Free,


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