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The Wabi Sabi Market


Wabi Sabi. Nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect. Grounded in the ancient Japanese Shinto, Wabi Sabi is a celebration of the fleeting, rough and natural beauty in the world around us. That's a difficult aesthetic to come to terms with here in the West. We're accustomed to viewing the world through a lens of permanence, completion and perfection. Everything can be better. Everything should be better. Here things are built to last. Here things are moving inexorably toward perfection.

But this is a Wabi Sabi market. It is fleeting. It is lacking completion. It is imperfect. For a Westerner it is a difficult market to embrace, hard to know, unreasonable even. That's probably because in the 90s we grew comfortable in the belief that we, as a society, controlled our destiny, that we could manage our affairs with precision, and that the market was simply a reflection of this power.

It was quite an overshoot. In the late 90s there was the feeling that nothing could stop us. If it was not outright invincibility, it was at the very least a certain delusion of grandeur. The reaction to that overshoot is a return to essence, a move back toward nature, a regrouping of sorts accomplished organically. Where progress for the sake of progress once ruled the day, perhaps we are now increasingly becoming aware of cycles once again; cycles in business, cycles in markets, cycles in life.

The search for perfection is still prevalent among us, and it is not necessarily a bad thing, unless it comes at the cost of reality. In pop culture the quest for perfection reigns... and reality definitely suffers There are entire television shows devoted to the use of plastic surgery to repair the superficial flaws we have. Clearly, while the market may be teaching us a lesson in imperfection and reality, we are not quite ready to embrace the imperfect in all things; not with a face like this, a butt that's too big, and a nose that could stand to have a few tweaks here and there.

So while we plow ahead with our pop culture-driven ideals of permanence, completion and perfection, the Wabi Sabi market twists sideways to slightly higher, imperfections and all. The tools I use to evaluate the market say things are ok for now, if slightly disfigured, a bit askew. That will change, of course. Nothing lasts. Nothing is finished. Nothing is perfect.
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