Can it be?
According to Macquarie Dictionary, the word perfect is used to describe something that is without blemish or defect. It’s faultless, correct in every detail, lacking no essential elements.
In reality, perfection is an impossibility. Perfection is an illusion.
We judge something as perfect only because our eyes can’t see the imperfections that are there, built into the object, an intrinsic part of it.
A stainless-steel chef’s knife isn’t really smooth. When examined with a powerful microscope it’s revealed to be as pockmarked as the moon. An unfurling rose bud contains blemishes. The Earth’s spin has a wobble.
We see what we regard as the flawless face of a beautiful young woman. But if we peered at the pores of her skin through a microscope we’d see cellular irregularity and miniature scars unable to be seen by the naked eye. The brilliant blue eyes would be shown to have discordant patches of other colours. Under close analysis her facial bones would be imperfectly aligned, one ear perhaps infinitesimally lower than the other, and her blonde, windswept strands of hair would be jagged along their length.
Under close scrutiny all things in the world of form are faulty.
Perfection is an impossibility. It’s a surface illusion, a product of our limited eyesight.
It’s all in our heads.
Thousands of years ago the Japanese decided to celebrate and honour the imperfections the world holds: all things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. They call this approach to life:
This view of the world acknowledges there is beauty in objects, places and people that would normally be classed as ugly or dissonant.
Maybe the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins was inspired by this philosophy when he wrote Pied Beauty, in which he celebrates the oddities in nature:
All things counter, original, spare strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled . . .
I have a kitchen table with water marks; a blue fruit bowl bought because of an accidental drip of glazing on its outside curve; a wooden bench etched with grooves going back to the time it was a tree. These things — like all things — are faulty, broken, imperfect.
These imperfect things I treasure are a reminder that nothing and no one is perfect.
At a deeper level, wabi-sabi is an acknowledgement of the imperfections one has oneself.
Like my kitchen table, fruit bowl and bench, I am faulty, broken, imperfect. And yet I am loved, valued, treasured, of use.
Let’s honour all things, all people.
Sometimes imperfection is perfection.
With love, Marlane