It was a simple housewarming gift.
He was a fair-trade importer, and she was a society girl of the most extravagant degree. Together, they were light and laughter embodied. I had nothing but pure adoration for them.
So the gift they gave me – a candle holder, handmade in India – was perfect. To me. At the time I opened it.
Cut glass mosaic, alabaster dotting the rim; when you put a lit candle inside, colors and shadows danced merrily in time with the flame.
I felt loved, remembered, and exhilarated.
I brought it home and showed my (then) boyfriend.
“Look at it” he snorted. “It’s crooked. The glass doesn’t even fit together at the bottom. It’s probably a reject. He just couldn’t sell it to anyone else. What a joke.”
I looked at it again. For a long time. Then, I was defensive and livid.
“What are you talking about? IT IS PERFECT. There’s NOTHING wrong with it. Go away. You’re such an ass.”
But was imperfect. Crooked. Haphazard. The words wouldn’t pass my lips, though; admission was defeat.
I shoved it, then, in the farthest reaches of the closet. It was easier to hide it in the darkness, to ignore it completely, than to bring it out and look at the imperfections.
A few years passed. I packed. I moved. And as I unwrapped the candle holder, its beauty was dazzling. It was like receiving a gift all over again.
It was still imperfect.
That hadn’t changed.
What had changed was the way I perceived it. No longer was the tilt ugly, it was charming. The spaces between the glass on the bottom were puzzlingly quirky.
It was absolutely unique because of its imperfections. There is no other candle holder like it in the world. None. There is only one that tilts as obviously. Only one with the precise mismeasurment between the fourth and fifth pieces of glass on the bottom.
There is only one that’s as perfectly imperfect as mine.
How on earth could I hide such a charming, beautiful thing for years? To not giggle at the light and shadows it casts? To reject its shimmering rainbow of muted, magical colors?
I threw all those things away, simply because someone else told me it was imperfect.
It lives on my bookcase now, front and center in the living room. It reminds me, daily, that I, too, am imperfect.
I always will be.
If I love and respect my imperfections, then I get to enjoy the whole of who I am. Nothing hidden, and nothing rejected.
Were it that easy to grant ourselves that kind of acceptance and grace. To understand that it’s the flaws that make us beautiful. The only one of our kind in the world.
Forget the drastic diets, the liposuction and the nose jobs. Forget the Botox and the comparisons to yourself against another person.
You are never going to be perfect.
No. Strike that.
You are already perfect.
Just pull yourself out of the closet and look again.
I think you can read my ~innermost deep thoughts~ because both weeks you’ve targeted exactly what I have needed to hear. 🙂
I have a wicked scar on my wrist, which I got before I was a year old when I pulled the cord of a hot curling iron and it landed on my wrist. I LOVE my scar. No one else has a scar like it. It makes me imperfect and unique. It’s in two parts: one part kind of looks like a heart and the other looks kind of like a dinosaur (like a stegosaurus), and it makes me smile whenever I look at it. NEVER have I thought about having it removed. In fact, if a plastic surgeon offered free surgery to remove it, I would decline. It’s strange, but I can’t imagine life without it.
Thank you for your post!
Karen Kay Phipps
I love the way you worded this. Thanks so much!
This reminded me of when my mom was working really, really hard at 3 different jobs AND still had time to throw things like tupperware parties, or crystal house parties, just to try to get things cheaper that she knew she couldn’t afford. I come from a very, very resourceful stock.
Anyways, one of the special things was that at the end of one of the crystalware related parties, she let me pick something out of the catalog for my very own. I was immediately drawn to this little crystal turtle, fits in the palm of an adult’s hand or so. Pretty weighty, smooth on every curve, I was in love. I had to wait another six weeks for it to arrive in the mail, and you know how that time passes when you’re 7. You practically forget it happened and then one day BAM! Magic in the mailbox. I could hardly contain myself when I saw the turtle. I showed it to my mom, I showed it to anyone who happened near and couldn’t outrun my zeal. My mom then asked to see it, and realized it hadn’t been poured “properly”. Part of his shell was all sunken in, and she wanted it to be such a super special gift for me that she told me she would “fix” it and return it for a better one. I won’t tell you about the massive fit I threw in response to this, but you can imagine the injustice I felt. I literally lost sleep for fear of what that poor turtle would have to endure being remelted and poured down. And then an ugly thought — what if they didn’t even do that? What if he just got tossed away and NOBODY ever loved him again?
I was quite aware that this wasn’t a living being. But I think I was learning something about life, and this was just the way my little mind could wrap around it. It’s a lesson that has remained with me for over 20 years now. I still have that little guy… he’s just as awesome as ever.
Ok, I’ve come back because I had an experience yesterday after reading your lovely post. My hubs had bought me a lovely carving of two giraffes from Kenya. I’ve always wanted to go and I WILL go, the giraffes served as a kind of talisman for my dream of that adventure. I had an enjoyable talk with the man selling them about his country and was walking on air..until I got home and notice a large crack in the wood of the base of my carving. WTH? We just paid a large amount of money for damaged goods! My mood fell and and I felt like I’d been ripped off. It was awful. I considered taking it back. But then I remembered your story. It was a challenge to fight the negative feelings off through the evening and into this morning. It seems silly but I felt like my dreams had been crushed. I tried to remember and really feel your words. I am usually very positive but I guess I’m senstive about this dream of mine-I’m getting a lot of opposition from family- ANYway,I went and looked again this morning at my piece and that huge crack is really just a tiny natural can’t really be helped split in the wood that ADDS to my art,rather than takes anything away from it. What a complete DORK I am! I really feel the lesson now:) And so I Thank YOU deeply, your post was so timely and helpful! xoxoxoxo
I love the beauty in imperfections… and we are all of us gloriously imperfect.
Just what I needed today ;].
This. Is. Awesome.
Thank you. 🙂
Awesome. Every time someone insists that there’s something wrong with me (my weight, my lax of my eyelids, my messy hair, etc.), I just tell them that I wouldn’t be me without those flaws… and I love me, so why should I change?
It speaks volumes when you look at something and just see the beauty in it and not the imperfections. And sadly it speaks volumes to those who only see only the crooked and ugly. In the photograph all I saw was teh beautiful reflections. Thanks for the reminder that we all have to look past our imperfections to the beauty reflected.
LOVE this post.
Absolutely perfect and oh so true.