Humans can't freehand a perfect line. Tiny imperfections are the signature of all our work. Asymmetries, glitches in patterns, the aging, drying ink or paint leaving too faint a mark or too rough a texture in spots.
The timber was fluid, dancer-like, like all long, slim timbers, straight but swaying. The post borne of her is rugged, rough, scarred stiffness bearing the pock marks of human hands tieing strings too tight, the horse's weight at the end slowly sawing a slash through brittle skin. Only in the hands of us and the other living things do things go so crooked. Chance alone did not get us here. And this means there must therefore be choices that affect the very lifegiving marrow of our bones, distort them so that they slowly die after so many generations but only after tearing up all the soil of our lives.
It is those of us who have been to those crooked places that know, deep in our souls, the consequences of such choices. We know it isn't simply chance. The consequences deter us from going there again. Perhaps the saddest fact of life is that sometimes you can't stop. A certain number of us who party too hard or hide too deep and keep doing it long enough? Our bodies, our minds, they are addicted, and despite all the remorse in the world, we cannot stop doing that which we hate, that which destroys us.
Whether it's a big imperfection like alcoholism or a small imperfection, perhaps a character flaw, we try to hide it. We are on a quest for perfection, born seeking it, born longing for it, from our relationships to our careers, from our secret thoughts to our actions, we wish to be perfect. Happiness - that is something we expect to feel often and to feel perfectly, wholly. But when does that ever happen? As we push our impurities down again and again, their roots grow twisted and scar us in ever more silent ways, ways that linger and change the very core of who we are.
We forget, especially as we compare our own lives to those of certain lauded, 'perfect' people on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs - that imperfection is a gift. Imperfection is what makes us a species with deep, necessary relationships. It draws us toward others, draws us toward those who bolster us in the ways we are strong and draws us toward those who complement our weaknesses. Imperfection is what makes us human. Instead of the solitary perfection of a god, we are imperfect people with needs and longings and desires and connections.
Maybe the hunt for perfection is what made Martha Stewart a millionare in the 1990s. Maybe it's why there's so many blogs on the art of being a housewife pouring out of my generation. Maybe it's why we choose dangerously sometimes - that seemingly perfect physical, emotional rush right after you shoot heroin, or the giddiness of a new relationship, however unhealthy, so much more "perfect" than our long-standing relationships that are now scarred with our failures.
I forget that my scars are beautiful. I forget that each one is the sign of a success. They are my history and they change my present and my future. I am stronger because of those imperfections. Each scar is the opportunity to encourage and engage with someone over the story.
With the courage to stop hiding, our imperfections can change the world. We can make it a safer place for the next generation of sinners. I want to live in a world where others don't judge you on the type of scars you carry and the type of imperfections that make you unique in your humanness.
I want to participate in shaping a culture that holds the aching and touches scars lovingly and celebrates the beauty of vulnerability. Care to join me?
*This post inspired by a beautifully imperfect book club, where all the breathing, heaving, aching pieces hidden deep within us were birthed to the surface, embraced and loved. We read Brené Brown's Daring Greatly.