There’s something about the Mona Lisa that captivates us. Her image is a combination of half-smile and half-sneer. In her imperfection, she is flawless. Were Michelangelo to have painted her perfectly purring at us, I contend we would have found her much less fascinating. So why is that we are obsessed with perfection in our own lives but make allowances for imperfection all around us?
A tragic flaw is engrained in our cellular memory that causes us to set ourselves up for failure. It’s the perfection trap. We’re taught early on in life that there is a “right” way and a “wrong” way to perform most every task. Programmed from youth, we take a side – right or wrong, and run with it. As we age, we even think that there is such a thing as a perfect relationship. So we look for the princess or knight to complete our perfect storybook ending.
Is it any wonder that we fail at these relationships? There is nothing perfect about any of us and the sooner we embrace the flaws we possess, the sooner we can get on with living, instead of dreaming. Let’s face it; we’re all a mess in some way or another. Some of us work too hard, some play too hard, some drink too much, some isolate too much, some are too close to our parents, some are too distant, and some of us believe in dreams coming true, while others, like me, believe that dreams are but myths and fables.
A distant hope inspires us to believe that there are other souls like ours, longing to find one another . And so with each passing day, I find new beauty in a person’s imperfect life. The more vulnerable we can be, the more of an opening for honesty to flourish. And in that moment of honesty, I might be able to forgive myself for not being – heaven forbid – perfect. At that moment we can also experience the common denominator that we all share – that of being imperfect, mortal in a word.
In mortality we can be energized by the common, captivated by the ubiquitous and stimulated by the folly of life. Do you remember that perfect sunset that you watched on that perfect night in October? You couldn’t hold onto it, could you? Or the perfect 75 degree day with the leaves clinging to the trees in vibrant hues – didn’t you want that moment to last forever? It didn’t and neither did that perfect full moonlit night.
Fact is, nothing lasts – for better or for worse. The moment you think you’ve achieved perfection, you will see that moment itself is fleeting. And so if we know this to be the case, why do we spend endless amounts of time striving and reaching for the unattainable? Perfection is an ideal better left to poets and playwrights, authors and dreamers.
Funny, but when a person reveals that oft-kept secret to us, or shows us that ide others can’t see, we form a closer bond – the bond of being totally human. Last I heard, humans weren’t designed to be perfect, but rather our beauty seems to grow from the flaws that we possess. It’s the struggle of dealing with flaws that generates character. Each time we overcome a flaw, we develop a deeper spirit and we comprehend our journey a little clearer.
To ease the discomfort of recognizing our imperfections, we can celebrate the aspects of ourselves that make others smile. For in those moments the smile is a reflection of that priceless gift of connectedness and humanity. Like the Mona Lisa, our imperfect natures make us flawlessly interesting and earnestly provocative.
Written by Author Dave Lopez
Check out his blog at www.harvardmisfit.com