Why do we value the imperfect, in things and nature but reject the same imperfections and flaws in ourselves and others?
I recently ate at a lovely restaurant that had beautiful finishes and impeccable food. The lighting was rustic, the chairs vintage and the table crafted of wood that has seen many decades come and go. There was more than just a charm–there was a deep beauty that permeated the materials. The knots and twists wrought into the wood over years of growth yielded a completely unique plank that made this place feel special and important.
But why is a worn and torn “reclaimed” barn wood café table so valued for its uniqueness and imperfection — while a mother’s worn body, used up on caring for others, walking thousands of miles in service and rough with the neglect that comes from the constant attention given to the needs of a family — is dismissed as “un-fit.”
Are we more beautiful because we have reached some physical perfection or reached some level of worldly success? Or is it the imperfection and wearing out that makes us more beautiful? When I was considering the table, with all its knots and scars, I couldn’t help but recognize the truth therein:
True beauty is encountered in the depth and richness that develops from daily use, hardship and wear. I was reminded of the most beautiful person I know: my mother. She served without question while raising 6 kids. She gave every ounce of herself to those who needed her whenever they needed her. She was grateful for the good as well as the bad. She continues to be an example of how to allow the buffeting winds and tumultuous rains to bring out the truest beauty that one carries within. She is the flawed and beautiful. Her beauty is in her flaws and imperfections.
Seeing this truth was something I needed to encounter–yet again. Low spots hit that make me feel like my sole purpose in life is to serve other people–and, at times, I resent it. I see the demands as something that strips me of some part of my self. I compare myself to others who seem to have everything perfectly in order and sense a great failure in my imperfection. But we are all flawed. We are all riddled with imperfections. That is what makes us unique. We are not defined by our flaws–but by the depth of character that develops through our daily persistence to stay the course, no matter what.
I remember reading somewhere, someone was quoted as saying that the end of a good life was one where a person is completely “used up.” I hope that I can be like that stunning café table: strong, flawed and beautiful.