25 Nov 2013
On Wednesday last week, I had a bit of a turning point in...
My husband bought a dodgy tribal rug in Kazakhstan. It’s geometric in design and every so often there’s an obvious flaw in the pattern.
Interestingly, the flaws are deliberate. According to the tribes’ people who create these masterpieces, ‘perfection is reserved for God’. Imperfections are introduced as a sign of respect. Striving for ‘perfect’ is sacrilegious.
Imagine for a minute the freedom of living in a culture where perfection is outlawed:
Working in a role where you must not produce something that is 100% right...
Having imperfect relationships, and understanding that this is the ‘human way’...
Understanding that your body, like our rug, is beautiful because it isn’t exactly symmetrical...
There is a beautiful Japanese parable about a priest at a temple near Kyoto, who spends much of the day preparing the garden for his guests. He carefully shapes the moss, plucks weeds and gathers leaves in tidy piles, all in order to achieve the state of perfection that the temple builders had originally designed (and much like my parents do when they’re expecting visitors!)
‘Isn’t it beautiful?’ the priest asks a Zen master.
The master nods. ‘Yes, your garden is beautiful - but there is something missing…’
The old man walks slowly to a tree in the centre of the garden. It is bursting with glorious autumn leaves and all he has to do is shake the tree a little and the leaves rain down, scattering haphazardly all over the grass.
‘That’s what it needed,’ the master says.
Julia Cameron - author of The Artist's Way says 'Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough - that we should try again.'
One of the best gifts we can give ourselves - which rapidly transforms our progress - is to let go of perfect. Shake your tree, scatter some leaves, allow flaws in your work and embrace the beauty of the imperfect world, into which we fit so – well, perfectly.