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Comfort for Critters

~ Celebrating 10 Years & 50,000 Blankets ~

Wabi-Sabi

May 14, 2015

Every so often people will question my logic in giving beautifully crafted blankets to pets who will likely knead them, chew them a bit and have the occasional “accident” (poop-happens, after all). They warn me that our creations will look worn and ragged in no time. Of course my short reply should be, “because these pets deserve them,” as every CFC volunteer would attest.

But the writer in me never likes a short answer, when a long drawn out one will do. So I got to thinking about our society’s obsession with “new” and how it’s never really fit with my particular view of the world. My favorite things in this life are all worn down a bit and dirty around the edges. And no, I’m not just speaking of my husband.

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese concept which embraces what I’ve always felt. It’s the idea that the imperfect, the worn, the used…is a beautiful thing. Perfection is boring. Scars, on the other hand, almost always hold an interesting story.

Wabi-sabi is embraced as a decorative concept and also a spiritual one. It elevates the idea that handmade, with all its imperfections, is far superior to something cranked out by a machine. Assembly lines may create perfect blankets, but one that shows the telltale signs of a beginner, simply comes alive with meaning. Or is it just me?

I see Wabi-sabi every day in my prized possession. It’s a hairbrush that’s almost as old as I am. My mom used to brush my then waist-long hair with it, and so despite the loss of a third of its bristles, I routinely wash it and pray that it continues to hold up. It is simply the most perfect brush ever created.

I feel the same way about my books. I can’t help but give the hairy eyeball to someone who calls themselves “a reader,” and has rows of pristine books. Mine have been curled around and drooled on, more times than I care to admit. Their bindings hold enough crumbs to keep a mouse fat and happy for the winter. Clearly they’ve been used, loaned, and used again. My favorite book is my father’s Bible, which is riddled with notes, questions, underlines and arrows. The cover is disintegrating before my eyes, which just enhances that wonderful old-book-smell. Its messy-sort-of-beauty reflects perfectly, a book that was alive in my father’s hands.

And so it goes… when the blanket ages. Yes, they will get torn a bit, dirtied and dragged. That’s exactly the type of blanket that my dog loves to drag around and my cats cuddle in. Come to think of it, it’s a surprisingly accurate description of my kids’ old blankets and their favorite t-shirts! The worn blanket speaks volumes about its value to the pet. The worn blanket gets to wear its dirt and holes as a well-earned badge. The worn blanket is Wabi-Sabi, created with yarn and love.

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