Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything;
That’s how the light gets in.
Yeah, you know who I’m quoting, it’s Mr. Cohen again, and it is one of my very favourite pieces of poetry, and one that speaks louder to me the older I get. I love his ability to isolate tiny epiphanies in poetry. Is he a songwriter first, then a poet, or vice versa? That thing that I see from the corner of my eye, the ephemeral concept, flitting through my perception so briefly, that disappears when I turn to examine it head-on? He captures and defines it, turns it over in his hands and shows it to me.
This isn’t about Leonard Cohen, though. This is about the beauty of imperfection. This is about remembering my great-grandma’s crooked finger, broken and never reset properly. This is about the mark in the coffee table where my baby cut his teeth twenty years ago. This is about that certain trick of turning the doorknob so you don’t get trapped in your friend’s bathroom. This is about scars and dents and scratches. This is about things being unapologetically what they are.
I’ve always been drawn more towards something that is proudly its humble self than a cheap imitation of something grander. I’d rather have a beautiful piece of veined turquoise than a cubic zirconia, any day. If something’s plastic, it is what it is, and I have lots of useful plastic gadgets around my house. But don’t give me plastic imitation woodgrain.
You could argue, plastic lasts longer. Plastic looks newer longer. Wood gets scarred and scuffed. Porcelain cracks. Silver tarnishes. People get scarred and damaged.
Why are we so obsessed with looking newer longer, anyway? We get our faces shot full of toxins, have things tucked in and stitched back. We insert foreign objects into our bodies, and all to get them to be what they’re not. Aging is normal. Aging happens. Everyone had their moment of youthful beauty. Why can’t everyone can have their moment of maturing beauty? Why aren’t we allowed to age naturally anymore?
I say we take a lesson from the Japanese, and celebrate wabi sabi, the beauty of imperfection. Our love for each other isn’t quantified by how closely we fit a standard, but by how unique we are. Every scar and line and grey hair has a story, and that story is what we are.