Hat tip to Austin Kleon for recommending this video on wabi-sabi from The School of Life.

Simply put, wabi-sabi is an ancient Zen/Japanese view of the essential pertty-ness of things that ain’t exactly right, meant to last forever, and/or will ever be quite done.¹ For American country wabi-sabi, I’d add a fourth element of the beauty of utilitarian objects necessarily and willingly imposed on a natural world. e.g. a natural gas tank, a corrugated tin roof, dilapidated farm implements, etc.

For me, a disused, but still standing tobacco barn is the quintessential Kentucky wabi-sabi item. Not only is it old, possibly falling down, but it is likely to never be used again for its built purpose. Show me a picture of a tobacco barn in the Black Patch in an early morning frost and you’ve got me thinking of home and childhood all day.

When I write Hillbilly Haiku, I know that I am into some serious wabi-sabi when it makes me long for home or brings up a strong memory of family or a piece of ground.

¹ I’m paraphrasing (translating?) Leonard Koren here.