Wabi-sabi is the Japanese philosophy of finding beauty in imperfection and of revering authenticity above all. Put simply, it’s accepting that things change with time, as they get used and as they become part of our lives. Using things brings a comfort in familiarity. We assign value to items that accompany us on our way. Things that show their experience the same way we do: bumps and bruises, scrapes and leaks.
Meet my motorcycle. I don’t own a new motorcycle, nor do I really want to. There’s something about an old bike that instills character, that lets us anthropomorphize a soul into the machine. The marks and wear on my bike show a long and happy life on the open road before we met. It’s not the Rosso-Corsa Ducati I’ve occasionally been dreaming of, but it’s mine. I service my own bike, and I know it inside out.
I’ve put enough time, money and split knuckles into the relationship with this motorcycle than I can listen to what it’s telling me. Can you trust an inanimate object? Can you befriend a motorcycle? After six years and many hours of alone time, I think it’s possible.
My bike is 20 years old now, and a magic thing has happened during the winter. Last fall I put my old, scuffed-but-loved, high-mileage bike into storage. This spring I get to bring out my classic, experienced European motorcycle.
Images are Rolleiflex MX on Ilford HP5.