Perfect and Not Perfect — When Not Perfect’s Better

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is my favorite of the year.  Before the plague descended, it was the only time I enjoyed the luxury of not knowing the day of the week, the exact time of day, and sometimes, my own name.  

My days are filled binging movies, naps that overtake me, awaking in the dark at 5:00 o’clock, with that panic that starts in the solar plexus, is it morning or night?  The little stashes of Christmas goodies delivered by friends and tucked away from prying eyes, so I might have them all to myself, without sharing, which feels mean and wonderful.  

By mid-week I may stop lighting the tree, more from sloth more than ennui.  I will spend five minutes thinking of warm and sunny shores, palm trees, humidity.  But then, toting my trash to the curb, extra bags with boxes and crumpled wrapping, I will experience humidity, balmy breezes, and curse whatever powers that conspire to rob me of a white Christmas. 

My lovely, lovely notebooks and planners sit stacked and enticing on the edge of my coffee table.  I won’t touch them until my new pens arrive.  I won’t touch them even then, because I want them to stay perfect, pristine, the embodiment of promise — for organization, purpose, discipline.  

One of my writing friends is terrified by the blank page.  He writes whole chapters in his head, outlines plot and scene and fleshes out his characters before ever sitting down to the computer.  I love nothing better than a blank page, a clean slate.  It is a mirror, I think, of perfection.  But of course, once even the shadow of your face come into view, it becomes this other, imperfect thing, all illusion shattered. 

Not that this is a bad thing. In fact, it is a necessary thing, intended to save us from ourselves and the construct that is perfection.   That mirror wants to be our friend, showing us ourselves clearly, practically willing us to accept what we see, all of it, as we do with the lovable imperfections of others.

Like a good antique, our image in the mirror or on the blank page is the evidence of use, and wear, and on occasion trauma—the dark place a candle burned too low, the butterfly block that holds it together, fixed up, still standing.  

My friend, Sally, tells me not to be concerned about imperfections when it comes to antiques.   Sometimes we are willing to pay a lot of money for those cracks. Some say the crack tells the better story.

While it is still early in the week, while I still know the day and time, I think I’ll  take a gander in the mirror that is the blank page of the New Year.  I will try to look past the unreasonable weather, the rain which should be snow, will put away the Christmas tins, brush the crumbs off my front, sit up straight on couch. Open a notebook.

Concentrate not on perfection but  on all the lovely cracks. 

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