The Imperfection of Beauty

When I was a group instructor and wanted to connect with a class I would tease them that I might tell them one of my two most embarrassing stories. Instantly, I would have everyone’s attention. Why is it that people love to hear embarrassing stories? 

As it turns out, unique and raw beauty can be found in imperfections.

In Japanese aesthetic, it’s known as wabi-sabi. Through the appreciation of nature, beauty is found in something that is imperfect or incomplete. Similarly, a child’s drawing may be simplistic, rough and asymmetric. But to the artist’s admirer, it is perfectly beautiful. When there is a love of the source, imperfections become unique traits of beauty. Maybe that’s why we find it hard to embrace our own flaws.

Still want to hear one of those embarrassing stories?

It happened when I was newly married. In my defense, life was crazy then. My father-in-law had just passed away from an aggressive illness. I had just gotten over the chicken pox that I caught from a child at the funeral. And while we were in the midst of negotiating the purchase our first home we were notified that my husband was getting transferred out of state. Nevertheless, I decided that day that I would take a few co-workers out to lunch. We piled into my brand new white Honda Civic and headed toward a little cafe in town. The traffic was busy but not unusual. As the car in front of me came to a stop at a stop sign, I slowly and gentle stopped too close. Actually, I bumped into his car. The impact was slight but certain. The driver very graciously waved me on. I waved back and continue to follow him to the next stop sign where I, unbelievably, did the exact same thing. I bumped into his car again! He abruptly put his car in park, stomped over to my window and blurted, ‘How exactly do you stop when I’m not here?’ 

Although no one was laughing the time, I’ve thought back on that moment many times and smiled. He would have had every right to be a horrible person toward me in that moment. Yet, even though he had no way of knowing all that was going on in my life, and even in his obvious frustration, he managed to extend grace to me. I wish I could tell him that even today I am still thankful that he made space for me to live out my imperfections on that day. Needless to say, he did let me go ahead of him after that. 

Oh, and what was my other most embarrassing story? Maybe next time 🙂

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