In nature vs. nurture, we’re taught to instinctively see imperfections as problematic. By definition, the decreased potential for absolute perfection is supposed to degrade some amount of personal, aesthetic, or spiritual value, but that also makes the assumption things are wholly perfect to begin with.
Our aspiration is to “age gracefully,” most often judged by our ability to maintain a youthful appearance against the inevitability of time. It’s an irony that has us staring in the mirror searching for gray hairs to pluck or wrinkles to moisturize out of existence. With the right attitude, these can actually rail against the presumed purpose of these commonly-assumed “negative” changes: they’re perfections of the human body, physically reminding us of our experiences and memories and where and how we’ve lived. It’s just awkward carbon dating considering all the ways we’re taught to minimize their appearance.
A natural decay is seen as a problem, but shows how perfectly imperfect we become.
It’s the end of the summer and everywhere on the planet recently finished the hottest month in the history of human existence. That is not perfect, an issue of our own condition creating the imperfect living conditions we are increasingly made to reconcile with. How that impacts the natural world is hard to miss, most notably with the dirt-packed ground, the earth shattering more easily than ever to show miniature trenches dug out by dry days, clear skies and scorching sun.
The spaces that appear in the earth have caught my attention. Thin, narrow channels traversing as much space as they’re allowed, open pockets waiting to be filled. So many imperfections in what otherwise yearns to be normal, full, compacted ground.
An unfortunate context around these climate changes is how it becomes more normal. The idea of “perfect” may be wired to “good,” but it can also mean an ideal state given what’s allowed or simply “perfect” in the best possible scenario of that moment in time. It’s a hopelessly optimistic act to see these blazed natural spaces as “perfect” given the obvious route that got us here, a path literally and figuratively littered with carelessness for the world around us. But what remains on these sun-drenched days acts as a reminder of what we have to do or try to do or want to try to do. Sometimes all we have is hopeless optimism and the best we can do is soak it up like the rays that tan our skin and bake our earth.
If perfection is matter of state – an assumed reflection of an apex of aesthetic or art or creation – there will always be a moment in which we get to subjectively choose what that state will be. Perfection has never been an objective act. Even numerical scores climbing all the way to 100 are given by judges influenced by their own quirks. Time to embrace my own.
As I looked at the broken dirt recently, it was hard to not think about what was once likely considered perfectly manicured grass, a sea of green hiding a dark brown ground full of moisture and life. Devoid of that now, I wish for it to be seen with some kind of perfection, a chance necessitated by this moment in time and all the environmental and human factors around it.
The cracks were what happened when life got in the way of certainty, opening space to refill with what’s next.