Sunday, August 16, 2009
Sunday Reflection: Imperfection
When I dry the dishes
Poorly, I know
A wet asymmetry
Made with a drop.
I do know better
I can get it right
Still, I leave it at "almost,"
I never trusted perfection.
Up at the island (where there is no electricity and thus no dishwasher), I enjoy being the guy with the towel who dries the dishes. I'm not popular in this role, though, because I never let them get perfectly dry when they leave my hand-- I leave a trace amount of dampness to evaporate. It is 100% intentional, and I have been this way since I was a child. It's almost the opposite of being a perfectionist-- I'm an imperfectionist. The way it drives some people nuts to have something not quite perfect, it drives me nuts when something is seemingly perfect. It does not seem whole or real that way. Why do I have this impulse?
Giving myself too much credit, sometimes I have thought that I am leaving some to God. That is, it is the rest of his creation that will finish drying the dish. Other times, I have thought that it is imperfect things that have the most character.
Most recently, I have thought that maybe that impulse comes from my sense that nothing, seen clearly, is perfect. We live in a world of imperfection of our own making, because we cannot create something perfect. Our lives are not perfect, our work is not perfect, what we create is not perfect. We are not capable of that; only God is. Perhaps that impulse to leave my work imperfect is to make clear that imperfection, to mark it as human and real, and to avoid the allusion that there is such a thing as a perfectly dried dish.
A world of imperfection, self-conscious imperfection, also makes it easier to forgive the imperfections of others. When my friends mess up, I am more able to forgive them, and to remember that if I only settle for friends who are perfect I will find myself quite alone, and unable to meet the standard I set for others.
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I used to drive my roommate nuts by setting the microwave to odd times and stopping it before it was done. I would heat up something for 43 seconds and stop it at 2 seconds left, and she would go crazy. I get where you're coming from.Post a Comment
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