Perfectly Imperfect

An incident which took place in my life a number of years ago, leaving lasting repercussions, began a conscious effort for me to define the word “perfect”.

Before the incident took place, I hadn’t questioned the word at all, believing I knew exactly what it meant.

Perfect for me was the right amount of salt on my chips to suit my taste or the right position for my chair to be arranged so I could read clearly from the light coming through the window when I sat there.

They were the times when I may well declare that it was “perfect”, meaning perfect for me.

Maybe not so perfect for someone else, but I could accept that. “Different strokes for different folks”, as the saying goes. The word perfect had not been an issue to me.

Until the day I lost a friend, after my use of the word.

An old school friend and I had kept in touch through letter writing for some years. After the birth of my fourth child I wrote to her with my good news, knowing she would be happy to share my excitement.

Not so. I had explained to my old friend the joy that my three other children had shown in welcoming their new baby brother, telling her how he was the perfect addition to our family.

My friend had one son, an adorable little boy, regardless of having been born with many disabilities. His personality shone through his health problems and the look of love lit up his huge brown eyes.

Her letter of reply after my announcement of my child’s birth stunned me. She no longer wished to continue our friendship as she felt the word “perfect” to be a slur at her son.

I questioned myself. Had I been insensitive to my friend’s feelings? She had always been happy to hear stories I had told her of my children, just as I enjoyed hearing about her son.

Or had she?

Eventually, after many months of soul-searching and many conversations with another friend who has an autistic child, I sadly concluded that my lost friend felt so much grief over her child that it was too much for her to cope with.

There was nothing I could say to her to console her; her mind was made up.

Call me strange if you like, but to me, imperfections make perfection!

Dictionary definition, adjective, perfect ~ “of or marked by supreme moral excellence; holy; immaculate, free from any flaw or defect of quality”.

To be honest, classic perfection makes me nervous!

These are some of my definitions of perfection ~

The knots in a piece of wood, showing the flaws of nature.

The comfort and softness of sitting in a well loved chair.

The ruggedness of the stonework used to construct old buildings.

The bite marks in my furniture, still evident from the days when my eldest son was teething.

The curls in my daughter’s hair, which she claims “sit funny”.

The irregular textures in a ball of natural wool when I’m knitting.

The wrinkles around an old person’s eyes, showing they have really enjoyed living their life.

The gnarled branches of a tree, twisting up to the sky.

The scar on my daughter’s knee, a reminder of her clumsiness, the day she went away on year six school camp.

The jagged rock-face beside the ocean, formed through years of crashing ocean waves.

My list of perfections would be endless!

Perhaps I could sum up my own definition of perfect this way ~

“Distinct irregularities on an object or person, each flaw telling a story all of its own”.

My definition of the word perfect will never make it to the “Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Volume II”, and I can live with that.

It’s time for the world to embrace the perfect imperfections of everyone, and everything. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Perfectly Imperfect

  1. I love your definition of perfect. 🙂

    I decided to give up perfectionism a few years ago. I found it didn’t serve me well. But perfect, in your sense, is something I would gladly welcome.


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