Here's a Method for Dealing with Imperfection

The spot was there for about a year.

We tried to ignore it.  We walked around it.  We certainly didn't speak of it.  Still, it was there.  One slate tile out of probably fifty that was off kilter and coming loose from the porch floor.  (You can see the photo to the left which I took about a week ago.)

Imperfection is like that- we know it's there but aren't quite sure how to deal with it.  

Think of the car accident on the side of the road.  You don't want to be seen craning your neck to see it... but at the same time, you're curious right?  I know that I am.

Or, think of the person in a cast.  I almost can't help but to ask how the cast got there.

The other day I saw a small child at the airport and clearly something was wrong with her physical development.  I had to pause and be thoughtful about my response.  Rather than stare or feel badly, I chose to appreciate who she was above and beyond whatever physical challenge she's currently facing.

How do you respond when you find imperfection?  Do you feel badly?  Do you say "Thank God that's not me"?  The responses are myriad but I'd like to suggest one surefire way to respond to it:  Embrace it.  

Get close to it.  

Don't feel bad about it.  

Get to know it.  

Name it.

"Imperfection", after all, is a relative term.  I knew a student who was autistic and instead of feeling badly for himself, he chose to use his differences as a source of strength.  This is similar to what Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his book David And Goliath.  You can watch his Ted Talk about imperfections here.

Back to my porch story and the imperfect tile.  I chose to not ignore the darn thing and one day just mixed up some new cement and fixed it.  As you can see from the photo (and as my four wonderful kids are quick to remind me!) it's not quite perfect.  If you try hard enough, you can tell that "one of these things is not like the other".  True enough.  The struggle I had was not with the mortar or finding the time to do the job. It was just simply a matter of choosing what to do with a seemingly imperfect tile.

Each of us has things like this in life.  Look around and the people you work and live with have their stuff as well.  

Application: what's bothering you about yourself or another person?  Can you name it and get closer to it?  

Connection to digital: use technology to get closer to imperfection.  Research poverty and then spend time with the poor.  Use email to stay in touch with someone who is hurting. Send a Twitter direct message to encourage someone in need.