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finding comfort...

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Shibui is a Japanese aesthetic that has no exact translation in the English language.

It's a beauty born of layers of meaning. Beauty that surpasses time and the constraints of a cultural definition. 

Sōetsu Yanagi, the author of The Unknown Craftsman, describes shibui as "beauty that makes an artist of the viewer..." According to him, for a thing to be beautiful, it 'must be associated with freedom.' Free from the norm, from preconception, from the standards of perfection...  

This didn't just flesh out my understanding of art in every day living, it expanded my idea of beauty in general, and of freedom...

I'd just read this bit in the book before getting an email from a woman requesting extra words of comfort on the note we send along with her order... 

And I realized that somehow these two things were connected - her request and this concept of shibui. Before I could respond to her in a meaningful way, I needed to ask myself:

What I am afraid of right now, and where do I find comfort?And is comfort really what I'm reaching for?
And so I did what I do when I want to make sense of things – I write... I use words to figure out where I am and then order them like stepping stones, towards the direction I wish to go…

I began with a list of my fears: acknowledging all that is true for me today, no matter how big or small. Once I separated out the things that are immediately within my control and those that are not, I made another list.

Everything in my immediate surroundings that brings me comfort… not just what I'm grateful for, but actual objects I surround myself with because they have a particular aesthetic, having them around makes me feel more me, they have 'pathfinding significance'...

long hardwood boards I've shaped and sanded by hand 

a small bookshelf made by my father 25 years ago

two of the first elemental women Brian created

pottery we've specifically chosen to use for our meals
one chime from Arcosanti and one made of steel by an artisan in Maine
100% cotton clothes from a company that does no harm

Authenticity. That’s what gives me comfort. Integrity and beauty that comes of authenticity. These qualities can be found in the objects that were crafted, curated, and collected over time - but I also seem them in the people I lean into, the food I eat...

I began to see a guiding principle that threaded through my entire way of being. 

And once I saw that, I understood my list of fears. They were all in opposition to this way of being... or at least, that was my perception... 

It put my fears in a whole new light and gave me a clear path to move through them.

There is something about this complex time that begs for simplicity... a process  for each of us to find our way back to a place of quiet. 

always in motion, 


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  • I love the phrase layers of meaning, and the idea that beauty is made up of such things. For me, comfort lies at home as well, AND it also lies in connection with others—those close to me who don’t live in my home. These are, obviously, two layers on my very complex soul. I’m remaining curious so that I can investigate (& appreciate!) how these layers shift to meet my needs as I adjust to the restrictions out in place.

    lee lee thompson on
  • Thank you. This time of self isolation begs for us to self investigate. Thank you for reminding me that quiet is something we all need, from time to time. We are always in motion and trying to figure out how we are to cram in all we feel we need to do in a day. I woke up this morning feeling lost and a bit bewildered as to my purpose today. Thank you. My purpose is to remember who I am.

    Tania Downen on
  • Thank you for this message today and showing the way you connected into your authenticity. It is what I need right now, I have not been writing or creating images as is my typical practice, as if I am afraid that the writing will bring me closer to the fear of not having the answers or the knowing for what to do next. I realize just now, that I have fragmented parts barely holding together what I can, as so many ways of being connected are on hold right now. And I must be present for those relying on me to hold it all together and make sense.

    Thank you for both your insight and this space to add my small response. I love the daily Story a day and this page.

    Victoria on

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