Contest RecapMidlife Collage sponsors a weekly contest of midlife short stories. U.S. citizens and legal residents age 40 and older may enter. The Editor selects five stories for publication on our website each week. Readers leave comments and Facebook thumbs-up likes urging the panel of Judges to choose a contest winner. Readers also send the Judges their opinions of the best story on our Closing Arguments page. The contest period is Monday through Sunday noon PT. The first-place story enters the Winner’s Circle and receives a cash prize of $50. Winners of a $50 cash prize are eliglble for a $100 contest, which we run quarterly. See the Submissions Page for the Contest Rules for details. ANYONE, worldwide, age 18 or older can comment on the stories in a contest.
My sixteen-year-old granddaughter saw an article in a newspaper about an upcoming beauty pageant and said, “I always wanted to be in one, but not by myself. I’ll enter if you do.”
The pageant did have a category for older women, so reluctantly, I agreed—secretly, I’ve always wanted to be in a pageant—but only if we could find new affordable dresses. I was positive we would not, and I would be released from my obligation.
At a dress store in the local mall, however, we found gorgeous formal dresses for $10 and $20 dollars. So we entered the pageant. As I was getting my hair done (something I seldom do) for the pageant, sitting under the hair dryer, I read a magazine article on wabi sabi, which profoundly changed my life.
Wabi sabi is a Japanese view of accepting diversity and imperfection, flaunting our flaws instead of hiding them shamefully. I checked out a few books and realized the principles made good life standards and attitudes. I wanted to incorporate this into my life and perhaps into my fifth-grade classroom.
Not only is Wabi Sabi about reduce, reuse and recycle, but appreciating the beauty in imperfection, especially tolerance for the older generation. So I started by wearing to class what I have dubbed “the wabi sabi shoes.”
My daughter found the shoes at a consignment shop for $5 dollars. Now we share them. When one of us has something special to do, we borrow the shoes. I wore them in the beauty pageant and I won the Spirit Award. My daughter wore them to a job interview and got the job.
I like the shoes because they make me taller than the fifth graders. At 5’2”, I’ll take any advantage I can get. With a new coat of polish, the shoes gleamed. My husband reattached a loose piece of hardware and added new brads. The shoes make me feel like a million bucks, and I wore them on the first day of school.
I talked about wabi sabi to my class. I explained, “When my watch lost a rhinestone from the wristband, it still told time, didn’t it?”
The students are now adhering to the principles of wabi sabi. Before, we only used one side of a sheet of paper and then discarded it. Now, we use both sides of the paper, drawing an “X” on the used side. I no longer find half-used pencils in the trash; rather, the pencils are used to the end, and the unused eraser is taken off if someone needs it.
I still have a lot to teach my new students each year, including tolerance for all things old and flawed, including me! With a wabi-sabi attitude, my students and I set sail on a yearlong adventure of acceptance, tolerance for what is imperfect, and making the useless, useful again.
Let me leave you with this thought:
I shake my counterpane of dreams and see what once was tatters,
Have now been quilted whole again for “finished product” matters.
No longer sports its gaping holes of ambiguities,
It seems the laws of flaws have changed, now they’re known just to me.