Learning to love our perfect imperfections
My friend Lisa gifted me a beautiful crystal ornament this year. Its dazzling sparkle was one of the magical delights on my tree. She mentioned a word of caution about how easily it breaks since one of hers did last year. A few nights later while on the phone with her, I was fussing with the ornament when it slipped through my fingers, hit a box below and broke. My heart sank. Of course the ornament could be replaced; it was the joy of receiving such a special present that shattered more than anything.
My initial reaction was to throw away the crystal pieces. Even though she suggested putting the pieces in the form that came with the box in case it could be fixed, the broken pieces stayed in the trash until the next morning. That’s when her words spoke to me again. I got them out and placed them in the box as it was packaged. They fit perfectly. That’s when I noticed a pin-sized hole. What if I tried crazy glue? I wondered. Moments later after the glue spread from that hole to the broken seams, I picked up the ornament by its hangar and it was whole once again, sparkling like it did before. There was just a a slight hint that it had been repaired in some way.
What a great reminder that things are fixable and imperfections are perfectly natural. In a previous column some time ago, I talked about the teachings of Wabi-Sabi, the Japanese art of appreciating the beauty in our naturally imperfect world. What if we learned to prize the drips and cracks in our lives? Given the intense emphasis the New Year often has on our “goal-setting” nature of starting out with a clean slate and “getting it right this time,” this ancient Zen practice might come in handy in some way.
Fixing broken things may be easier than fixing less tangible things such as relationships, health, or finances. Still, what comes to mind is that if we do nothing, then there’s no possibility of repairing the situation or condition. Had I not gotten the broken pieces out of the trash and put them back in the mold, I would not have seen the potential for the next step—to drop some crazy glue in the center. Fixing the ornament did not come with instructions—neither does life. A willingness to take a first step toward a different outcome is what will make or break the potential to succeed. Best wishes for 2018.
Originally published in the Orange County Register, Globe edition–January 11, 2018