Rusted Spokes–and a Different Way of Seeing

Wabi-Sabi--First in a Series

Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. –Leonard Cohen

I am working in my photography archives, inspired to begin a new project that celebrates the beauty in the old, the worn, the natural, the simple, the impermanent, the imperfect. The photos reflect the ancient Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, a combination of two words: wabi which translates as humble, and sabi which indicates the beauty found in the natural passing of time. It is an aesthetic which focuses on a gentle acceptance of transience, and of the quality of beauty in ephemeral things.

In part, perhaps wabi-sabi is to the East what beauty in perfection is to the West.

In applying the concept to your life, the practice of wabi-sabi invites you to slow down, attach value to a simpler life-style,  and de-emphasize the material goods in your life. It offers encouragement to find beauty in the unexpected. It provides for a deeper connection with nature, and a deeper connection with the people around you.

The photograph of these rusted spokes is the first in a series. It was taken deep in the woods in a less-traveled part of Door County in northern Wisconsin last summer..

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Ah! Yes, I resonate and agree as there is “beauty in the old, the worn, the natural, the simple, the impermanent, the imperfect,” as you said. Wabi Sabi… indeed.

    Here is a quote from the book, ‘Living Wabi Sabi-The True Beauty of Your Life’ by Taro Gold: “Appreciation–emotional appreciation, artistic appreciation, appreciation on every level–is an important part of living Wabi Sabi. Appreciation manifests joy. We don’t need to live by some impossible standard to have a joyful, contributive, “enlightened” existence. We don’t need to become someone else or wait until things are “perfect” to appreciate the whole of our lives.” This is a wonderful book on Wabi Sabi, I might add.

    Lovely photo, and great idea for a theme, Bo. 🙂

  2. Wonderful photo. I love the symmetry and the texture.

  3. “…that celebrates the beauty in the old, the worn, the natural, the simple, the impermanent, the imperfect.” Just like me;)

  4. Joanna Young says:

    This sounds wonderful Bo, I can’t wait to see the rest of the photos.

    I think I need to apply this principle to my exploration of memoir writing – starting with an acceptance of the (many) imperfections of my life…

  5. Wonderful image, Bo.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how you explore wabi-sabi in photos. I read about wabi-sabi a couple of years ago, and have been fascinated by the concept ever since.

  6. I love that one, Bo and am looking forward to more in the series!

  7. Nice and for some reason rust is such a great natural color!

  8. So interesting to read about wabi-sabi. Finding and accepting beauty in the everyday ordinary is what it’s all about for me. Love the image. Am looking forward to seeing this project unfold.

  9. As a deep practitioner of wabi-sabi ways, I’m so pleased to see this series. It’s comforting and beautiful, and fills the eye with great appreciation.

  10. fahrrad says:

    Dies ist ein großer Ort. Ich möchte hier noch einmal.

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