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Breathe, keep breathing. Don't lose your nerve" -
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Page 334: Shibumi is Here to Stay

/ Saturday, February 18, 2017 /
Shibumi. A word that reminds me of so many things, but recently it’s more about reason to stay. While Shibui is a more common term that people use, my heart goes with how others call the concept: shibumi. Maybe because it has the word “bumi” in it, Indonesian for earth. Our planet. Our home.

It is our home. No matter how far we wander, we still live and breathe in it. Where we meet other souls at places and as we interact with them, we get to know them, learn about them, learn about ourselves too. Through conversations, through the way they react on things, and through gestures. As time goes by, some people just captivate your heart effortlessly – while some need more time as long as you give them the chances to – in which you get to call them your home. Some will reveal their true colors as you show them yours, and they will stay with you through the good times and the bad. They’ll be the reason you want to stay longer or even for the rest of your life, find and or give meanings through moments you share with them.

Why shibumi? Because it’s a concept of embracing inner meaning rather than superficial adornment, of simplicity, tranquility, subtle and unobtrusive beauty. My favorite japanese aesthetic term so far. The Japanese usually uses the concept in arts to describe the value that an object/ work has. The more someone sees and observes shibumi work/ object, this person can find new meanings and enriched beauty that cause its aesthetic value to grow over the years. Shibumi objects usually have simple appearance but details like texture or subtle patterns that make them need longer observation to find the beauty.

To me, it speaks about the journey to find beauty in imperfection too. And by journey I mean in the spiritual sense. The kind of journey you can have without moving from one place to another. From staying. From committing to yourself to take chances, and to embrace the possibility that you might get hurt during the journey. To build home. Build the connection with people that make you feel the inexplicable warmth every time you spend time with them. To be okay and comfortable in silence, because their presence is enough.

To stay is to not giving up easily. To fight boredom with willingness to observe and learn to appreciate beautiful imperfection in these people or in the city you and they live in. Because we all have them – flaws that we try to cover or fix; or insecurities that we constantly or intermittently have battle with. To stay is to practicing the concept of shibumi.


And no, it’s not easy, for some people. It takes time, honesty, a piece of selflessness and nurturing acceptance of the warmth that comes. Just like home as space, you try to add things that remind you of why you belong there. You arrange things in it to maintain the comfort and make it more than just walls and roof. That no matter how far you travel, you’d miss that space because it’s your home. The place where you can leave that secret part of your restless heart outside the entrance and wash away the exhaustion on your body from the trip or adventure you just had.

To stay is to feel, to learn and to grow. And to be brave to let it happen.

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