Wabi-Sabi, Concert Edition

Wabi-sabi is a wonderful Japanese term for the little imperfections that let us know in an instant that something is handmade.

Amidst the constant search for both perfection and authenticity (whatever each of those mean), wabi-sabi is often a good guide to what’s real — and it’s something most people can spot almost instantly.

At a concert last week, I experienced 900 people recognizing wabi-sabi all at once. About halfway through the show, the singer missed an entrance right at the beginning of a song. He stopped the band a few bars into the music, laughed, and stepped back up to the microphone. “I messed up,” he said with a laugh, then launched back into the song from the top.

No one was disappointed by the mistake. Instead, we all applauded the quick recovery and looked around at each other, eyes glowing with the recognition of being in the presence of something real.

Little blips like that aren’t produced. And that’s what makes them perfect.