“This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfection.”—St. Augustine
Standing in front of the mirror one morning, I glance at my face, more exposed than usual with my hair pulled back by the reading glasses on top of my head, reminding me of the headbands I wore in my early teens.
“You look pretty today,” I say to my reflection.
And then the “little voice” says, “Yeah, except for the wrinkles on your forehead.”
“I have a ‘wabi sabi’ face,” I reply and then laugh.
Do you have conversations with yourself? Are they expressions of love and appreciation, or are they critiques and judgments supporting a quest for self-improvement—or worse—perfection!
How can we cherish the quirky things about ourselves instead of hiding or disguising them? Aren’t these imperfections a part of what makes us unique and endearing?
Somehow the subject of wabi sabi (a Japanese way of seeing the beauty in imperfection) had come up in conversation the day before. A friend had been telling me about his home remodel, which he had put so much care into. Instead of viewing the many oddities of his handiwork as mistakes, he looked at them as creative and charming expressions of his personal style. He calls it his “wabi sabi home.”
If it’s easy to see such unexpected beauty in things, why is it so difficult to see it in ourselves or others?
Several years ago, I adopted a four-year old German shepherd, who had been raised as a show dog—“Cadence of Erinbrook” (a name that was quickly changed). Despite his majestic appearance, he had a crooked ear, which cost him points in the dog shows. Subsequently, he was given to a young family, who later gave him to me.
His crooked ear was a part of his charm, and without it he would have remained a show dog and not have become such a special part of my life for many years.
How can we take a wabi sabi approach and appreciate the wrinkles (after all, we’ve worked hard to acquire them), the insecurities and idiosyncrasies that make us unique? And then, how can we take it up a notch, to see the beauty and joy in those things that we’ve been trying to hide or ignore, to fall in love with all sides of ourselves, and to recognize and value the perfection of imperfection?
Linda Commito is the author of Love Is the New Currency. Go to www.loveisthenewcurrency.com for more information.