Faster, Harder, Better, Stronger

“Tarnished”
Creede, Colorado

3/27/2012

“There is a crack, a crack in everything.

That’s how the light gets in.”

–Leonard Cohen

Perfectionist, I am not.

And never have I been.  Somewhere in my core I am missing that kernel of purist idea.  My yardstick measures increments of good enough.  My benchmarks are slapdash.  “C’est la vie” is a favored mantra.  I lean toward old and weathered over new and shiny.

“Beaten”
The Murray Homestead: Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Retrospection reminds me that at times I have tried to change this.  Renewed pledges of effort and a changed determination that I might swim faster, study harder, parent better, love stronger and be more perfect were usually short-lived.  My intentions were always thwarted, my coaches, parents, teachers, children and lovers were often bothered.   How could I fail yet again?

I concede at last.  The accumulation of years has added age spots and crinkles around my eye but has lessened my need to please.  I have tired of feigning to be what I am not.  I am perfecting the art of imperfection and find it easier to ignore things that used to worry me, like my blasted weaknesses and what I will cook for dinner this evening.  I am like a wabi-sabi convert, happy to find redemption in that ancient Japanese point of view that values the beauty of all things imperfect. 

“Tired Welcome”
Georgetown, Colorado

Personal limitations are not unlike the patina of an old copper kettle, or the gnarled wood of a used up cabin, the wrinkles of an aging parent, the graying of a woman’s beautiful hair or the place on the hardwood floor bleached by time and sun.  They tell of flawed loveliness, raw beauty and an admiration for the nicks and scratches and bruises that come with time.  They are indisputably honest.

“Fading Glory”
Georgetown, Colorado

Cracks and chinks give depth to an otherwise perfect veneer and are as matter of fact as change.  They are not a sign of giving up, nor do they show lack of effort or shortness of discipline or need of talent.  They are simply real.

Could it be that those who seem to have no faults are simply less perfect in their imperfection?

 

 

I am honored that my post “Twenty Push-Ups” is featured on Sonia Marsh’s Gutsy Living blog this week.  Sonia is running a fabulous “My Gutsy Story Contest” that features writers who tell about situations that have changed their life or altered the way they think about things or circumstances that have sent their life in a different direction. 

Check it out here:  http://soniamarsh.com/blog

 

81 thoughts on “Faster, Harder, Better, Stronger

  1. Oh, I love this! I think I am a wabi-sabi convert, as well:)
    I used to be a perfectionist, and I was quite unhappy and often physically ill; stress from trying to achieve that which really is not possible. When I decided to instead not only embrace, but genuinely love and feel gratitude for, the imperfections within, and externally as well….I began to embrace genuine life…a pure joy!
    Thank you:)

  2. The Cohen quote is so fitting for Miami politics. The Cubans rail to keep the embargo and not any contact with Cuba. We should open up completely. That’s how the light gets in and the regime will fall.

  3. Did I laugh when I read the wabi- sabi line! The older I get the more I appreciate it.
    Love the photos, and the way you write.

  4. As always Beautiful post. “How could I fail yet again?”- this one is a question which I ask myself several times. But not as beautifully as you have asked in this post.

  5. I must research this wabi-sabi further !
    My mom has been an antique dealer for decades….there is a period of beading and needlepoint where the women would purposely stich something incorrectly. It was called a “humility bead/stitch” because “only God can create perfection”. (& We’d make a game of who could spot it first).

  6. I love that Leonard Cohen quote! I love setting goals that feel right for me. But when a goal wasn’t right for me I found the fire to achieve it was lacking. I love your acceptance of you. It is something I’ve been working on and hoping that the years will bring more of. Great post! Love the pics.

  7. love, Love, LOVE this post!

    Years ago I thought it was imperative to maintain a spotless home, one that hardly looked lived in.

    What about now, you might ask. At first I lowered my standards, and that felt so darned good that I simply threw them out the window!

  8. How ironic that a beautiful post about imperfection would display one of the most perfect photographs I have ever seen. The old mining shack on the mountainside is Pulitzer-worthy. You never disappoint, Bella.

  9. It seems to me that this also talks about aging, with each blemish, wrinkle and grey hair a sign of wisdom gained. Love this post.

  10. I am slowly giving up my pursuit of perfection — at least in most things. It’s difficult to let loose of the feeling that you’ve let yourself down or someone else. But something has to give or you go nuts. This is a wonderful post reminding us all to be kinder to ourselves (and others).

  11. Dear Bella – your introspective thoughts on the beauty of imperfection are so lovely. Your posts are consistently thought provoking and haunting. But – Oh, how I wish I could see my age spots and wrinkles as charming! Could they possibly be as lovely as your “Looking Back” photo? Unfortunately, I must admit I’m still fighting for flawlessness and only hoping to come to grips with graying hair, fading/faded youth, and the whole superwoman perfectionist “thing.”

  12. I’m another fan of the photo Looking Back not to mention my old friend Leonard C.. There are goals and expectations we each create. I may reach the mountain top but I’m not the fastest climber. It’s all about the journey.

  13. Bella, if you are an example of imperfection, then I hope to be equally as imperfect. Aging has been a gift to you that we all get to share through your beautiful words and pictures.

  14. I’ve always wanted to achieve perfection in some facets of my life, but have never, ever been able to keep it together long enough for that to happen! I used to think of myself as a failure, but now just kind of revel in my own imperfections. Oh well, whatever, I say. And then just continue down my path– happy to be me.

    • I knew I wanted to get those aspens in the picture when I took it but it was not until I got home and saw it on the computer that I saw how the trees lined up with the old mine in that way.

  15. Well, By Golly, since you put it that way, I do believe I would never want to be less perfect in my imperfection. How freeing the thought! Even though these effervescent words were written by one of the most perfectly wonderful people I have ever known.

  16. Wise words and beautiful photographs! If more people would be more accepting of themselves and not worrying about meeting someone else’s standard of “perfection,” I think we’d all be happier and the world would be a better place.

  17. I’m something of a perfectionist, so we’re meeting from the two sides of the barricade I liked this post very much, though I don’t agree with all you say. For instance, perfectionist… perhaps because they aspire to achieve perfection, are usually more aware than others it is really very rare and we see it only seldom. On the other hand, I. like yourself, prefer “old and weathered over new and shiny”. There is much more character in old and weathered. I like old people too, because they’ve had time to develop their character, and it is easier to recognize in those that have it. I agree with you that flaws don’t discredit the whole. And from my own experience, I’ve found that it is possible to change, but that change comes very slowly, and demands a lot of work. What is beautiful to each of us, is that which resonates in our own souls; beauty is something different for each person, and we are drawn to people and things that matter to us… sometimes because they are like us, and sometimes because they complete something that is missing in us. I enjoyed your pictures very much. Thank you for a beautiful post.

  18. Wonderful, wonderful post!

    I’d rather be disliked for who I am than loved for who I am not. If I pretend to be someone I’m not and people like me . . . I’ve gained nothing, because they’ve fallen in love with a “mask.”

    And if they don’t like the “pretend me,” I’m left wondering if the real me would have fared better.

    As we move from an ego-orientation to a more spiritual awareness, we realize that we are enough . . . as we are. We stop striving to be who THEY want us to be and let ourselves be seen.

    Perfect in our imperfection. :D

  19. I always love your insights. I couldn’t agree with you more. Beautiful quote and I agree, age and time make everything better. I too love the ancient charm of old cities, ruins, weathered doors, the novelty of a tarnished teapot and the lines and wrinkles on people, clues about the lives they’ve lived.

    My mother taught me to strive for perfection, and though it’s something I’ve learned, there’s is still a more natural side of me that says good enough is good enough (perfect will make you a big fat mess every time – from a book called Calla Lily Ponder). It’s only recently, in the past year or so, that I’ve consciously become aware of how I, along with many others, conceal weakness. Embracing honesty is much more liberating. Wonderful post =)

  20. Less perfect in their imperfection. I love that. I also love Creede and Pagosa Springs. I haven’t been there for 30 years. I’m sure it’s all changed and grown up, but it’s good to see they haven’t fixed all the cracks. Nice post.

  21. I must have lost my rose-colored glasses, and am seeing the real me in the mirror. It’s taking a little getting used to. Thanks for the encouragement that it’s good enough to just be me.

  22. I love those rustic shots andmay not be a perfectionist but your work is just perfect, esp that cabin in the sky.. oh and the gate, in fact i want that gate.. wonky is awesome.. have a great evening bella! .. celi

  23. “Could it be that those who seem to have no faults are simply less perfect in their imperfection?” I think it’s just that they’re still spending a lot of energy trying to hide those imperfections. As for you, Bella, after all these months of reading your magical prose and staring at your incredible photographs, I find it hard to think of you as anything but a perfectionist. A selective one, at least.

    • Bronxboy–you are kind and always make me smile. And speaking of magical, you are a very fine master of wit and wisdom. Always happy when you make a visit here :-)

  24. I like to think I am embracing this philosphy as I get older, but deep down I fear I’m just acquiring a more wrinkled, age-spotted covering to the same old insecurities.
    I love your photos, and your words.

  25. When I read your posts, I feel like I’m floating in a calm warm ocean of loving thoughts. Floating without effort. – If we were perfect I don’t think we would be here, but being here is perfect.
    Enjoy always, T

  26. Your posts always touch the deep places inside me, Bella. I am of a like mind with you on this, but I never could have expressed it so beautifully. I would love to have a collection of your words of wisdom in book form, along with the beautiful pictures that always accompany them.

  27. How delightful! My dear, I hadn’t gotten to read this before I posted my similar meditation today, and while I think you said it more poetically, I’ll at least claim that perfectly great minds think alike! Lovely, lovely.
    Kathryn

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