Voyage + Heart

Wabi-Sabi Welcome (A Lesson In Perfectionism)

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Stylist And Product Photographer - Voyage And Heart - NYC Brand Photographer - Wabi Sabi Welcome by Julie Pointer Adams

Maybe it’s my (actual) OCD, or maybe because it’s just my innate personality, but I am a perfectionist. It’s both a strength and a weakness. A blessing and a curse. It helps me professionally. It means I have an eye for things. That I give clients only my very best. But when it comes to the personal side of things, it means I often see one minor problem — something most people probably wouldn’t even notice — and have the uncontrollable desire to fix it, and in the quest for perfection, tend to over-do it.

My husband frequently tells me “you don’t need to fix that”, or “I think you can stop fixing that now”. A teacher once gifted me with the book, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I think she was trying to tell me something.

This book, Wabi-Sabi Welcome by Julie Pointer Adams, has been on my wishlist since it first came out. I adore what I know of the concept, have always been drawn to the style (and often implement it in my own work), and wanted to study it even more. Not to mention, with its letterpress title, fine art images, flat-lay pages, and overall cozy, humble, and lived-in aesthetic, this is definitely a coffee table book.

So, I ordered it, and upon its arrival, I noticed a red stain on the front cover. Knowing I should leave it alone, I placed it on my kitchen table, on European linens similar to the ones on it’s very cover.

When I picked it up a few hours later, I thought it would be a good idea to take a magic eraser to it. So, at nine o’clock pm, when I was tired and in a poorly lit kitchen, I lightly scrubbed the stain... and proceeded to get so excited to see it fade more and more with each pass that I went out of the area I needed to and onto the text “Learning to embrace the imperfect and entertain with thoughtfulness and ease”.

Like I said. The eraser did its job. Maybe a little too well, or maybe I just didn’t scrub as lightly as I thought, because it turns out I not only scrubbed off some of the light cream background, revealing the white underneath, but I went right over the word “imperfect”, fading the print to a fraction of it’s original state, and making it look more like “perfect”. Yup, I scrubbed the ink right off. Way to go, Elle!

It’s kind of ironic, in a way. “Embrace the imperfect” became... well, imperfect. It was my husband who pointed this out to me. He said if I had to mess it up, I couldn’t have done it in a better spot, that it looks intentional. I’m not so sure. 

Maybe the ink across the wording isn’t symmetrical. Maybe it isn’t as opaque or legible as it was meant to be. Maybe it won’t look brand new and perfect in photos. Maybe I should have just left it alone.

Or, maybe it looks well-read. Used. Loved. Imperfect. Wabi-Sabi.

Maybe this is an opportunity to put into practice this concept, this state of mind, that I love so much and strive to achieve.

Are you a perfectionist? Does this characteristic sometimes get you into trouble, too?