The Positive side of Being Broken or imperfect
We are always striving to look normal, to look happy, to look perfect, like we have no problem, no flaw, or no deficiency. Most of us try to keep ourselves in check and thus feel perfect, ignoring the fact that nothing has ever been perfect in this world as every “perfection” carries within it the seeds of “imperfection.” However, in spite of knowing this truth, people spend their time, energy and resources stressing over and striving for perfection in order to avoid the terror, fear, and often shame or guilt of feeling or looking broken, damaged or imperfect.
Regardless, one cannot negate the truth that we all are broken, we all are imperfect and our imperfections (of body as well as of soul) are the message that we are alive as life is the name of progress or continuous struggle. Thus, in the words of Mandy Hale (author of book ‘The Single Woman: Life, Love, And A Dash of Sass), ‘life isn’t meant to be lived perfectly… but merely to be lived. Boldly, wildly, beautifully, uncertainly, imperfectly, magically lived.’ The truth is that “imperfection” is the “perfection” in its best form because in the end there is really no such thing as perfect. And as someone has said, there is only the best, being the best that you can be and always striving to be better than the best.
The French poet and noble laureate Anatole France once said, “I cling to my imperfections as the very essence of my being.”
In short, the perfect imperfection is seeing the beauty in something that others (and some times we ourselves) miss, this makes it perfect as “beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Here is a beautiful story for you that will illustrate the point very aptly and poignantly:
The Cracked Pot
“There once lived a water carrier. Every morning, as soon as the sun rose, she walked from her home to collect water in two earthen pots that hung from a long pole that she carried across her shoulders. One pot was perfectly formed, the other, although the same shape and size as its counterpart, had a crack in its side. So, whenever they returned to the water carrier’s house it was only ever half full.
For years, the water carrier repeated her journey to and from her house collecting water from the river. As the years passed by, the cracked pot created a story in its head about its level of worthiness and inability to properly perform the job for which it had been created. Eventually, the pain and shame that it felt about its own perceived imperfections, became too much for it to bear. So, one day as the water carrier knelt beside the river and began her usual task of filling the pots with water, the cracked pot found its voice and said;
“I am so sorry. For years and years, I have watched you fill me with water and I can only imagine what a fruitless task it must be for you. As whenever we return to home, I am only ever half full. While in comparison, the other pot is perfect, rarely does it lose a drop of water on our long walk back to our home, but me, I am far from perfect. This crack in my side, not only does it cause me so much hurt and shame, but it must also cause you to want to get rid of me. Surely, I am only making this long, arduous job that you do each day, that much more difficult? I can understand if you are thinking of getting rid of me and replacing me with another perfectly formed pot.”
The water carrier listened to these words with both care and compassion. The cracked pot’s story of unworthiness and shame was not one that she recognised. For this was not what she thought of the pot. She knew about the crack, but did not see it as an imperfection, or as something that made it less worthy than the other pot that hung from her shoulder.
Gently she turned to the pot and said, “On our return walk home, I want you to look up and to the side of you. For too long, it would seem you have been looking down, comparing yourself to others and not noticing how you and the crack that you have in your side has brought untold beauty into my life”
Puzzled, the Cracked pot wondered what on-earth her words meant. She seemed to be suggesting that its story of lack, unworthiness and shame, was in some way faulty. As to how this could be, it could not comprehend.
However, the Cracked Pot trusted the water carrier. It occurred to it that in all the time that it had journeyed with her, she had never said a harsh word, never scorned or ridiculed it, but had always shown a sense of gratefulness and care when filling it with water.
So, on the return journey it heeded the water carrier’s words. It looked up and it looked out. In its former depressed state, it had not noticed that along the path that they travelled there was a dazzling array of beauty, colour and life. The water carrier in her wisdom, knowing of the crack in the pot’s side, had sprinkled seeds along the path. These seeds were duly watered every day as a result of the crack in the pot’s side and the path that had once been barren and devoid of life was now resplendent with an array of beautiful wild flowers.
Now, the cracked pot understood. Now the cracked pot began to see itself in a new light. Now it understood that indeed it had been telling itself a faulty story. If its experience of being a ‘cracked pot’ was going to change then it would have to change the story that it was telling itself.”
Japanese have a beautiful expression for this acknowledgement that true beauty is in the flawed, the perfection is in the imperfection. In traditional Japanese aesthetics, there is a concept of Wabi -sabi, a world view centered on the acceptance of intransience and imperfection. It is a view or thought of finding beauty in every aspect of imperfection in nature.
Thus it is rightly (as Rumi, Leonard Cohen, or Hemingway) said that ““There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”