Perfectly Imperfect

I read somewhere that in Japan they have a tradition. When a bowl or a plate is broken, it is repaired, but with a thin layer of gold along the crack. They don’t try to fake it with super glue or send it out to a master ceramicist to refire and repaint it, so it’s ‘good as new’. They celebrate the imperfection by bringing the two sides together with liquid gold.

This serves two purposes. First, it make the item usable again. And second, it serves as a great reminder that it’s the imperfections that are beautiful. After all, a broken bowl – damaged in a very specific way – is one of a kind. And the knitting it together with the gold makes it an actual work of art. I love this idea.

A few years ago, Jeff and I went to Greece for a few weeks. We bought a tapestry. The owner of the shop hailed us in, as nearly every shop owner does on a narrow Grecian street. Then he plied us with wine and proceeded to compliment Jeff – ‘You’re clearly an orthopedic surgeon’ he told him. Jeff never lets me forget this. When I asked the man what he thought I did, he pondered very seriously and then exclaimed ‘Why, you are the wife of an orthopedic surgeon!’ Jeff laughed so hard he choked on his wine, and I actually heard his wallet open.

The man’s practiced shtick, and the wine, worked eventually. We looked through all his rugs and tapestries. The wine wasn’t working on me enough to agree to purchase any that he showed us. Then he pulled something from the back. BINGO! That was the one. I’m a sucker for pomegranates. And I knew it would look amazing on the tall wall going up our stairs in the Snoqualmie house. But after it arrived and we hung it up, I did little to observe it. It was just there – beautiful, if a bit asymmetrical if I’m honest – and a remembrance from our trip.

Now, that tapestry adorns the wall of El Compartemiento. I sit across from it on my chaise, as I read, and when I’m writing every day. And now I get to look at it in detail. At first, I noticed that it wasn’t balanced. The right side and the left side aren’t the same. This bothered me a lot. Thinking ‘I’m sure we paid too much for this now that I look at it.’ But over the course of the last few months, I’ve spent a fair bit of time following the stitches. Some, on one side, lead to little hearts I had never seen before. Others to little gold coins that are present nowhere else in the fabric. The treasures and secrets it’s held all this time but I had failed to observe. Several artist contributed their expertise to different sections. And that’s part of what I love.

Slowly, it’s dawned on me that the imperfections and the lack of balance are what makes it so amazing and beautiful to me. Even more than before. Its drawn me in and brought me closer, rather than repelling me.

Last weekend was challenging with all the drama over my phone and that gang. After a sleepless night, I cancelled my driving lesson and spent Monday not leaving the house. I looked out the window and thought ‘Out there, it isn’t as nice as it looks.’ And then I snuggled up and licked my wounds and stared at our tapestry between naps.

But by Tuesday I was done with that. This city is a lot like this fabric that hangs on our wall. Nope – it’s not perfect. There are both the good and the bad people in every city. But there are hidden gems too – and I wasn’t going to find them sitting at home. So I rescheduled my driving lesson, and I joined a recreation and activities club. They do stuff nearly every day and tomorrow is my first practice on a Women’s futbol (soccer for the Americans) team in the Turia. I haven’t played since I was 12. Yes, I will be total crap at this but I’ll meet some good people, I’m sure. And make some new friends.

Sometimes, the best things come from difficult situations. And I much prefer filling the cracks with gold than trying to pretend things were never broken. Celebrating the imperfection, and then choosing to swim in it. I hope someday on my tomb stone they write ‘She was held together with liquid gold.’ Then I’ll know that all my very many imperfections were also celebrated by the people I loved, who loved me anyway.

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