Old Barns and The Lessons Within

There’s a special place in my heart for my Grandmother’s New Hampshire farmhouse. It’s where I learned to fish, picked wild blueberries, spent hours watching my stone-skipping ripples dance on her pond, and explored her old barn. 

Her barn had this wonderful smell of hay, aged wood, bat guano, and dust. You could hear curious owls hooting as you watched the sun dance through its cracks, illuminating spiderwebs and two neglected vintage cars. 

As I cycled across the country last year, I saw barns of every age, color, and design, but my attention drifted to the weathered ones. They reminded me of the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi – which should not be confused with your spicy tuna roll’s wasabi. 

“Wabi-sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, the antithesis of our classical Western notion of beauty as something perfect, enduring, and monumental.” — Leonard Koren

Wabi-sabi is everything that today’s Instagram-filtered, Botox sheen, at-scale culture isn’t. It’s thrift shopping, coffee stains, and sun-faded paint, and it celebrates the imperfections created by time, weather, and use. 

It invites us to honor Mother Nature and witness how the natural world shapes us rather than as a resource to be mined, harvested, or leveraged. It’s a call to Pause, Breathe, Reflect on life’s blessings and accept that it is uncertain, messy, complicated, and impermanent. 

Novelist Richard Powell shares, “Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.” 

Whether looking at barns or ourselves, we have a choice in how we see things. Instead of chasing perfection, we can appreciate the wabi-sabi of our wrinkles, cracks, and blemishes and celebrate the beauty and wisdom created over time. 

Until next week, have fun storming the castle! 

P.S., Today is the last day to join P.B.R.’s March Madness Bracket. It costs nothing to join, and you’ll have a chance to win prizes. 

P.S.S., You deserve to stress less. It’s why I created our app. Try it for free for the week by clicking the button below with your smartphone. Even the NY Times believes in the power of your breath. And next week, there will be special wabi-sabi meditation for you there.