It was a hectic couple of weeks put up in a hotel room, during an official trip. One morning after breakfast at the hotel restaurant, I picked up this perfect shiny apple from the fruit platter and left it on a table in my room for later. Each day passed, with the shiny apple still on the table as I juggled with my work. Nearly 2 weeks later, as I was clearing up the room getting ready to checkout, I noticed the apple on my table – still shiny and perfect. The same perfection that enticed me to pick it from the platter, now started haunting me and I wouldn’t dare to eat it – shouldn’t this apple be rotten by now?
There was a time when I wouldn’t buy grapes if there were any fruit flies near it, but now when I see these perfectly homogeneous bunches of grapes without any fruit flies fluttering near by – I ask to myself – “why wouldn’t the fruit fly dare to flock around it?” Why do all eggs in the box at the supermarket look exactly similar as if the hens planned for it?
The aesthetics, the consistency, the picture perfection that was eye candy earlier, now started turning sour – because it’s natural for a fruit to show signs of decay after a certain time span, it’s natural for the eggs to come in different sizes or shades and it’s also natural for fruits kept in the open to attract fruit flies. Coming from a retail background, I clearly get the significance of “visual appeal” but do we go overboard with losing the “real essence” of a product and all that the product now offers is “visual appeal”?
From perfect fruits, to flowers, to pictures, to people – I now seem to have a perfection fatigue! I have started yearning to see some imperfections and inconsistencies. The spots on a vegetable, the unglazed apple, the different shades and sizes of eggs in an egg box, the slow natural decay of a fruit – all these are a solace from the unreal perfection.
Perfection suggests a state of flawlessness, without any defects. Isn’t that an unreal state to be in? As John Ruskin, the great British art critic and social commentator of the Victorian Age stated – “Nothing that lives is, or can be, rigidly perfect; part of it is decaying, part nascent… And in all things that live there are certain irregularities and deficiencies which are not only signs of life, but sources of beauty… To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality. All things are literally better, lovelier, and more beloved for the imperfections which have been divinely appointed, that the law of human life my be effort, and the law of human judgement, mercy.”
I am in awe of the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi – which is the celebration of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. Wabi-Sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. It’s about having the courage not to fear bareness, willingness to accept things as they are—without ornamentation. So it shouldn’t bother me if I see a wrinkle on my face because as Mark Twain quotes “wrinkles merely indicates where the smiles have been”. Recently came across an article about a 50 year old lady who claims she hasn’t smiled for nearly 40 years – because she wants to avoid wrinkles (similar is Kim Kardashian’s strategy to avoid wrinkles). Holy Cow! How far can one go with these standards of perfection?
We aren’t flawless, each one of us have our own “cracks” – these cracks make us who we are. The cracks from where the light enters our soul. But who cares if light enters or not, we are conditioned to cover it all up and put our flawless self forward. It’s enlightening to know that there is an art form in Japan that literally celebrates the cracks. It’s called KINTSUGI – the art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. The KINTSUGI philosophy is that the crack is the proof of its fragility and its resilience is what makes it beautiful. Such a beautiful concept – accepting and celebrating the cracks by highlighting it with something as precious as “gold”!
When the trend is to throw away broken pieces, a soulful person could pick the broken pieces to create a beautiful mosaic. Where one sees the “uselessness” in the broken pieces, the other sees possibilities for a masterpiece.
Acceptance of the cracks in oneself and others is the only way to experience authentic love. The cracks are the mark of being real, they tell unique stories of what each one of us have been through. We all have our broken pieces that we try hiding behind the facade of flawlessness. Being your real self and loving someone’s real self would mean taking the different broken pieces together and gluing them with love and compassion to create a masterpiece mosaic of what is called a “Soul Relationship”.