Monday, October 3, 2016

Too Perfect

By Kimberly Jayne

I love journals. I request them for birthdays and other gift-giving opportunities where I can actually tell people what they can buy me. They're going to buy me something, so it may as well be what I want, right? Journals are beautiful inside and out, and I must have them. Plus, I have never found a reason to re-gift a journal. Ever. Because that would be wrong. 

But here's the problem. You knew there would be one, right? Yes, there's a problem. It's the girdle of perfection that squeezes the daring out of me. See, my beloved journals are perfect. I adore them. I fondle their smooth edges and bindings and dream of the worthy thoughts and ideas that only I can pour inside. I covet them like Scrooge covets his bags of gold, all for myself. The one thing I don't do is write in them. They are simply too perfect. 

I currently have a collection of a dozen beautiful journals that now serve only to taunt me because they’re gathering dust and slowly disintegrating, as all things do with the passage of time, without the glory of someone's pen (mine) scrawling and jotting and doodling and masterpiecing across their pages. I know. This could be the very definition of sad. *Sheds pitiful writer’s tears.*

So, obviously, this is a bit of a conundrum because the reason I ask for journals in the first place is precisely because they're beautiful, and I really do want to write in them. One would be perfect for recounting my life so my children would actually learn who I am after I'm dead. One would be perfect for writing my innermost thoughts about men and relationships and sex—but, er, what if someone finds it after I'm dead? And still another without lines would be perfect for drawing and sketching and arting, except that I'm no Michelangelo. I’m not even a Southpark Trey Parker. And there I'd be, embarrassing my children from the grave. *Pauses. Considers the merits of this one.*

I have intended to change this situation for a long time, coaxing and finagling, and bribing myself into writing something in each journal. So far, I have inscribed my name. I do have nice handwriting. Meanwhile, I keep adding more journals. Every time I walk into a book store, I walk out with a perfect, hoardworthy journal that remains as I received it: empty and deprived.

So I mentioned this little “problem” to some writer friends at a retreat last weekend. One of them is not only a writer and a longtime friend but a life and creativity coach. A wise and delightful woman, she immediately identified a solution. Wabi-sabi. 

Wabi-sabi represents Japanese aesthetics and a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. A concept derived from Buddhism, the aesthetic is described as beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Like my journals. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, roughness, and the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. In other words, Wabi-sabi says the beauty of an object is in its flaws. In a pretty but cracked vase, wabi-sabi is the flaw where the gift of light pours in. And whose broken heart isn't the personification of wabi-sabi?

In short, wabi-sabi struck me right between the brain lobes, creating a fissure in my thinking—and how very wabi-sabi that there the light shined in. It was so simple. So illuminating. So right in front of me all along. By writing in my journals, I'm not sullying their pages with my existential drivel. I'm not destroying the beauty and perfection of their craftsmanship. I'm not wasting the trees that gave their lives to be tattooed by my brain matter. In fact, I'm making my journals more beautiful, more valuable, more worthwhile—if to no one else but me. And any family that survives me. 

To make sure I won't slide back into [absurd] old habits, I invited two of my nanababies to color on the first few pages. And guess what? The journals have become even more precious to me and, far from perfect, I'm free to fill them up with abandon—and writer stuff.

What about you? What can wabi-sabi do for you? How can it break the girdle of perfection that binds you? Can it free you, as it has freed me?
Kimberly Jayne is the author of the dark fantasy series
Demonesse: Avarus and the hilarious romantic comedy Take My Husband, Please. She has been making up stories since she was five, when she scribbled on her grandfather's notepads her first tall tale about pigs flying. Yes, she started that shtick. Since then, she's written just about everything and for various websites and clients, including humor features for Playgirl Magazine. She also performed her work in the 2011 Listen to Your Mother Show in Austin, Texas. Visit her at  


  1. Kimberley, this idea is so freeing. I, too, hesitate from writing in journals for fear of damaging them. Now, I know I need to launch in. Many thanks!

  2. Right? As a little insurance policy, I'm having someone scribble in the first blank pages of all my journals. One day, I'll rely in myself to do this. I will never have to worry that they are too perfect again.

  3. I am feeling the same way. I don't have a lot of journals but I want just one...kinda big...that will invite me to draw, print and past posts and hold my grandchildren's art. I think I will do that. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Wabi-sabi is a perfect image I think. I love the broken and imperfect! They are just like me.

    1. Barbara, thanks for stopping by! I recently bought an absolutely stunning journal with all blank pages--no lines. I wanted to be able to do mind maps on those pages for the book I'm working on. Having my nanababies break them in for me was the ideal cure for the perfection that ailed me, and I'm using it all the time now. I really love the concept of wabi-sabi. It changes everything!

  4. Did I mention that I will be starting with the last page and working forward? I am saving that first page for when I have the "journaling" thing down perfect!

    1. What a great way to do it. I guess we have to sort of beat ourselves at our own game. :-) I don't know if I could do it backward (because perfection), but it would be interesting to try. Let me know how it goes!

  5. I'm new here, but I'm glad I came :) I'm not usually terribly inhibited about writing things down, but I do have this ONE journal, that well, has "lain in wait" (is that right? lain?) forever and a day. It's gorgeous. A gift from a friend in Australia. A parting gift, so kind of special. But after reading this, I'm lifting it from the tissue papers and out she's coming! I'm going to plot in her, wag her around and capture my thoughts. Why not. It's better than shriveling up in a drawer! lol And hey, maybe I'll display her, alongside a pair of stiletto's! Great conversations piece! (Wonder what the hubby will think? More divine madness going on over here in the writer's room?) Lo

    1. Hey, Loretta! Thanks for reading. I'm so glad you're going to pull out your special journal. I recommend taking the first page or two and just scribbling or drawing terrible pictures in them--or having little kids do it. Then it will be primed and ready for your hand. :-) Good luck!