Maybe it’s because the Jewish holidays were just here and I am being uber-self-reflective, but here I go again, pondering the world and the existence of man. I can’t help but keep thinking that nothing in life is perfect. I mean, g/d tried to make a perfect world and even (s)he made mistakes. Take a look at earthquakes. The way our earth is actually constructed is by a series of plates moving, shifting and shaking, causing volcanos to erupt and earthquakes to happen, yet after one of the major life altering events, what does man do? Man rebuilds, man struggles through, man accepts the imperfection of g/d; while at the same time railing against his own imperfections.
As Ernest Hemmingway profoundly expressed, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” As people, we have all had moments of breaking and because of the humanity within each of us, we somehow get stronger. I sit quietly and wonder how I fit into the world. Do we give ourselves credit for being who we are? Have we accepted the imperfections of life, the cracks within our souls; the lines on my face; the lost love ones I did not get enough time with?
We all live each day striving for some perfection, even in little snippets. I try to have the perfect interaction with the clerk, trying to make his day a little better. I strive to make my dogs happy with little treats, trying to make their days a little more perfect too. Even with these little small vignettes of perfection, we all sit comfortably in the dark lamenting over what may have been, what gloss has come off my perfect glow? The more I think of it, the more I realize, unless we actually begin to cherish the imperfections, even the perfect moments will seem tainted. We have seen sunshine and clouds. One sees light, the other sees the light coming soon, accepting that the imperfection of a cloudy day will soon lead to a sunny one. It is not our picture-perfect selves that makes us who we are. It is our clumsy, imperfect selves that defines us.
It is much like the shift of the plates in the earth or a glass rife with hairline cracks. Once the earth shifts, new land is created, volcanoes erupt and life expands; new horizons appear. The broken glass is one of my favorite imperfections, through it a million prisms of light can be seen, each one more beautiful and perfect than the last. How can something broken be considered imperfect when it shines so lovely? Just like the luminous sheen on a leaf, light comes through, showing its veins of life. Shells smashing on the shore, only for people to take them and make beautiful art. I think the most amazing example is a human, us. We break a little or tragically, but for most of us we get stronger, like the tree that loses a branch or a bone that breaks only to grow back stronger. All the imperfections in life are our strength, they lead us to rebuild ourselves, the world and each other. Our brokenness, our cracks, present the opportunity to allow the sun to shine in.
How do I look at life? Well, nothing is perfect. What I finally realize is that I don’t need to figure out what it means to be perfect; all I need to do is enjoy all the things I have learned from life’s imperfections. If life is supposed to be a journey of learning, learning from the imperfections is a far better teacher than learning from perfection because you will find a heck of a lot more imperfections than perfections. I recently dented my relatively new car, which previously would have made me feel like I pushed Humpty Dumpty off the wall, but now, I realize, I will get the dent fixed, and even after that, I’ll most likely not only dent the car again, but in the exact same place. A dented car is not a lack of perfection. A dented car makes it human.
There is a crack in everything we are and do. If not for the cracks, how would the light get through? Much of life is about confusion and uncertainty. There is no magic pill to make life perfect. We all have limitations and accepting our limitations and the hand we are dealt is what makes us stronger. Although hard to swallow, we need to accept the struggle to love not only our own scars, but those of others, especially those closest to us. Why not make it easy and embrace the cracks and imperfections. Instead of lamenting flaws in us or others, see them as opportunities to see the light, because we each have a special ability to let in the light. So, next time something cracks in your life, don’t say, “Why me?”, instead say, “Why not me?” You have just been given an opportunity to grow.
Within each of us is the ability to repair the cracks and breaks within ourselves and the world. Of course, we all have places within us that have broken, but within ourselves, each of us has the ability to repair the cracks and breaks and while we are at it, it wouldn’t hurt to let the sunshine in from the fractures within each of us.