“One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist…..Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist” ―
“Look what I made, Mom!” He was very proud of his accomplishment — an angel to hang from the tree at Christmas. He had clearly made it with his own hands, and saying anything other than how truly wonderful I thought it was would destroy his creative spirit. Enjoying the beauty of the imperfect is as important for a 5-year-old boy as it is for a 75-year-old man, and that is where I find myself with Hawking’s words of imperfection. If it is true that perfection simply doesn’t exist, then perhaps many of us should stop expecting it, of others and of ourselves. What is perfect, after all, in a universe of imperfection?
This is one of the most difficult weeks in my little world of photography. The challenge in my photography group is Wabi-Sabi, and it just might be my favorite theme. If it’s my favorite, why would it be so difficult? Because the possibilities are endless and beautiful. This is a week in which I revel in the fact that one man’s trash really is another man’s treasure because it is in the imperfection, the sometimes rusted or weathered exterior, in which I am able to find real beauty and value. Of course, it isn’t only in objects that we discover beauty and value when they are less than perfect — it is also in people. Looking beyond the imperfect exterior to find the treasure is a sometimes difficult key to the hunt.
Living in a modern age of bright and shiny things, I continue to find great comfort in items that have been loved for lots of years. I look around the house and see beautiful wooden pieces that were used sometimes long ago by people I have known and some I have not. I look at the dish with the chip in it and remember how sad I was to have it damaged and how much joy it has continued to bring. I’ve not tossed these items aside because they are damaged, though that tends to be the way of many — with things and with people.
Many people who are weathered and worn are often tossed aside as if being sent to a thrift store simply because they aren’t the latest model or easiest to care for. Perfection simply does not exist, yet so many of us will make ourselves miserable in the search for that very thing in our relationships and in ourselves.
When I look at how to succeed in life, I think of just going at it — learning along the way, making tweaks as necessary, and knowing that it’s never going to be perfect because my needs and the needs of those with whom I live and work are always changing. (It’s also how I arrange things in my home, much to my husband’s chagrin.) Imagine my surprise to discover that I’m not as crazy as I think I sound at times.
Harvard Business Review had great things to say about something called the Lean Start-up business model, and it makes complete sense to me, as the general premise is that instead of waiting to come up with the perfect five-year business plan, you just start. Of course, it’s a bit more involved than that, but it is once again a reminder that seeking perfection is setting most of us up for a long and disappointing journey.
There is no perfect business plan, no perfect partner to share life with, no perfect dog (though ours is so close), no perfect way to eat, and no perfect way to write. Imperfect is good enough, and when we learn to love (or at least accept) imperfection, we will most certainly enjoy life more than we knew we could.
Voltaire said The best is the enemy of the good. As you go through your week, think about that. Think about the exhausting task of always seeking perfection in people, in belongings, and in life. That guy who rubs your feet at the end of a long day or the girl who still burns toast might not be perfect but is probably much better than just good enough. When you take a minute to realize that the universe is full of ever-changing imperfection, maybe you’ll take a lean start-up approach to the job, to the partnership, to the marriage, and to living with yourself. Most likely, no one is seeking perfection in you as much as you are, and you should know that you just might be good enough.