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Embrace all your imperfections

Posted on November 12, 2015 | Comments

Guess there is no perfect way to say what I am most thankful for this holiday season.  After much thought and review of a treasured book, my gratitude gold star goes to imperfection.  The media often shares stories of how people have successfully turned around imperfect situations and numerous imperfections led to the discovery of DNA, penicillin, X-rays, and chocolate chip cookies to name a few examples.  What I am referring to is more of an everyday approach to the flaws, goofs, and hiccups that occur for most of us that could be keeping us from from being joyful and happy right where we are.  Today.  Right now.

The way of Wabi Sabi is an ancient practice offering insights valued by many for centuries.  Wabi Sabi is a universal ideal that can be easily adapted to any religious or philosophical background.  It honors the quirks, the oddities, the perfectly imperfect uniqueness in each of us highlighting the value of objects, events, and the entirety of our lives “as is,” unpolished, unpredictable, and natural.  The modernized description refers to Wabi Sabi as “wisdom in natural simplicity.”

How does an appreciation for imperfection lend itself to feeling happy and joyful?  Simple example: At a coloring party recently (yes, adult coloring is big right now) a woman told me my work of art was better than hers.  She pointed out what she thought was wrong with her color choices and noted other imperfections in her work which gave an impression that she wasn’t happy.  In the book, Living Wabi Sabi by Taro Gold, it states that “As long as we equate joy with perfection in even a small way, we will never know contentment.”

I had fun during the summer at the Bowers Museum during one of its “first Sunday” cultural events.  For $3 I delighted in coloring a rice paper sun umbrella with magical markers of every shade.  The freeform pattern wasn’t perfect and the activity delighted me even more as I remembered a time when that would have bothered me.  Imagine my reaction when it sustained a small tear from a little carelessness.  I laughed and said now it was truly one of a kind.

These examples may seem trite and unimportant in the overall scheme of things.  However, our learning process has to start somewhere particularly in areas of ingrained patterns.  Listening to my own thoughts and those of others, I believe it’s safe to say there’s a degree of “perfectionist” thinking in all of us. That’s why I’m toasting imperfection for Thanksgiving stuffing and all!


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