While cleaning out the garage, I came across a ragged stuffed animal that belonged to my son. It had obviously been washed and slobbered over, crushed in tearful embrace and squished in pillowed forts. Its imperfections were emotional experiences written over its surface. It wasn’t beautiful; in fact, it was a little disgusting. But my emotional attachment changed the way I saw the animal.
In a world where idolized beauty celebrates itself in every advertisement, it is easy to overlook flaws, imperfections, and unattractiveness as worthless. But when I slow down and ground myself in the emotional reality of the moment, I find it easier to see the importance of imperfection for the deeper value contained within it.
For many cultures, stories teach values, like the importance of hospitality. For example, in the ancient Greek story of Baucis and Philemon, the couple shows a disguised Zeus and Hermes hospitality. As a result, the were granted a boon, while the other families who refused the gods were destroyed. These stories helped infuse values like hospitality into their cultures. As a result, ideally, every stranger is seen as being a possible god and treated accordingly—the inherent good in the other being anticipated—in spite of what the individual may look like externally.
In Japanese culture, intentional imperfections in architecture and pottery provide a point of reflection. For isn’t life exactly that—an opportunity to see the beauty in every line on a face, frayed edge of a well-read book, every ragged stuffed animal that has been loved until the stuffing comes out?
What beauty are you missing in the mundane and the overlooked?
What scars, emotional or physical, can you see the beauty in?
What stranger or friend or yourself can you anticipate seeing a god i