Grit. It’s a word I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.
The folks at Meriam Webster say grit means “very small pieces of sand or stone” and “mental toughness and courage”. Grit is a personality trait I value in others – and also look for in my surroundings. Gritty attitudes and ideas inspire and motivate me, and more importantly, keep it real.
Let me explain…
One of my regular running routes takes me through an industrial area of downtown and, normally, I plod my way through those streets focused on not much more than making it back home. But, I recently noticed a graffiti wall on that run that was so colourful and so gritty – it was stunning! That’s made me think about how beauty can be found in some of the most imperfect places.
Plain and simple, gritty beauty isn’t faking it. It can’t. Beauty that comes from grit requires us to acknowledge how something that at first looks imperfect is really quite perfect after all, and brave and courageous – just as it is. The art on that graffiti wall was haphazardly painted, tucked away in a wild urban setting, just above the gravel shoulder on a two-lane road. I loved it.
Discovering beauty in gritty people and places flips the narrative, from negative to positive. Another example of this idea is where I live. Our home is in a neighbourhood some might consider to be on the “other side of the tracks”. But it’s that grit, and the area’s visual diversity and realness that is so appealing to me.
Our neighbourhood doesn’t pretend to be what it’s not. You’ll see any number of fun characters here on any given day, like the man who takes his parrot for daily walks and odd assortments of people stumbling home from the pub – and I love them, grit and all.
So often, there is beauty hiding in plain sight in our lives. The cliché for this is “diamond in the rough”. The Japanese call it “wabi-sabi”, an aesthetic view that is centred on the acceptance of imperfection. Derived from Buddhist teachings, characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity, and simplicity. Wabi-sabi abandons the search for perfection.
This is an idea I’m now keeping in mind as I find ways to simplify my life. Abandoning the search for perfection is freeing. So, this week as I continue to downsize my belongings and streamline my daily routine, I will also focus on looking for more examples of gritty beauty, just like that graffiti wall, because I’m certain it’s there.