Friday, April 24, 2009

The Tragedy of Perfection

I am a ex-perfectionist. For years, whenever I bought something, I would examine the entire stock to make sure that my item was the newest, best and brightest. I would dig through stacks of books to find the edition at the bottom that hadn't been touched. Then I would take my things home and wait for that perfect day when I would use them. I had beautiful table linens that had never seen a wine stain, dishes still in bubble wrap and vintage napkins that had never been unfolded. 

Then in 1996 I got married...and things began breaking. Dishes were chipped during post-party washing up sessions and champagne glasses were accidentally shattered out of sheer joy. Tabletops were scratched, wine stains appeared on the couch and scuff marks were a reminder of the night we turned the dining room into a dance floor. Slowly and surely, my precious possessions began to assume the patina of character, something they had never had before. I realized that my quest for perfection had not defined me; instead, it had trapped me.

Character is about second-hand threadbare rugs...

...chipped pieces of pottery that hold butter just as well as they did before...

...and beloved black swans that have been painstakingly glued back together after the cat made an ill-judged leap.
When my son came along in 2001, well, you can only imagine how things degenerated after that.

Today, I firmly embrace flaws of all kinds. Behind every chip and crack is a story. Imperfections are what give our possessions meaning. I look forward to watching my couches become shabby from nights of togetherness, my dishes become increasingly mismatched and my house become a well-worn sanctuary that enfolds one and all.

26 comments:

little augury said...

Amen, my mother believed the same and every imperfection has a story she loves to tell and all still love to hear...remember when, G

Rowan said...

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Style Court said...

Amen. As an editor I respect recently said, "Use it or loose it."

Linda/"Mom" said...

* Have been reading about "WABI-SABI" lately, & I SOOOO "get it"~ think YOU can say "EUREKA", too! ~~~ (And, "AIN'T LIFE GRAND?!?!?!")~~~
Congrats, Linda in AZ *~~~

Mrs. Blandings said...

Occasionally something really good will get broken. You know, like something of my grandmother's. Even then I try to take a deep breath, think of how long it was enjoyed and say, "Everything breaks." Sometimes there is a little bit of a raised voice about throwing things in the house. But it is short of a rant.

Simple Good Beautiful said...

Lovely.

Summer said...

Right-o! I've got a blown glass gourd lamp with a crack repair turned to face the wall (boy #1 thought it would be more fun to exit the living room via the window instead of the door...) and a lavishly upholstered headboard that the boys used as a vomit target the first time the flu swept our house. Oh...the pencil fight that ended with a #2 piercing my antique silk Chinese wall panel. Missed the sparrow's head by a hair...so we're all good. Embrace boyhood or become Mommy Dearest...

C.T. said...

Hallelujah!!!
"A beautiful thing is never perfect."
Amen.

Jeanne said...

Lisa, I totally agree. As the old adage goes 'every picture tells a story'.
By the way thank you so much for the links you sent me on Grey Gardens and Little Edie. Fascinating! Stop by any time.
Jeanne

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I wrestle with perfectionism, but have decided I prefer style instead. Besides, everytime I look in the mirror I am aware that perfection doesn't really exist!!

Of course, then there's Edward who, like Mary Poppins, is "practically perfect in every way".

pve design said...

I love to show my children things that they created all by themselves, the little dents, nicks, scrapes and occasional holes all add up to one full life.
We use our china nearly every day, and many a chip remind us to count our blessings.

Tavarua said...

..and maybe that little chip out of the china, the scratch on your leather suitcase, some dented silver, will make you remember a story of that trip long ago or the dinner at Christmas, with that said and moving around - it is all good, life is not perfect - if it was - How very boring indeed - Love your posts and the way you express yourself...Have a great weekend

ArchitectDesign said...

I have to agree -I'm the crazy person combing ebay for beautiful china that already HAS chips -they tell a story (and are cheaper besides). Once they're chipped, you don't worry about breaking them as much!
The only thing I still like to buy perfect and new is my magazines! Nothing like a virgin magazine on a saturday morning :-)

Paul Pincus said...

i am a ex-perfectionist, too. it's liberating!

you're such a gifted writer. wonderful.

happy weekend!

Glenda said...

That's exactly how I feel. I like things that aren't prefect. I am not perfect so why should my things be.

That's why I prefer Flea Market, Thrift Shops, and any other second hand item. There is always a story behind them. I only wish sometimes I knew the stories.

So, your not alone in your imperfections.

Ciao

Karen said...

I'm agreeing with Glenda:) and you! The stories behind thrift store finds - if only we knew . . .
I have found so many wonderful things over the years at my thrift stores (a favorite find: BRAND new, still w/tags, gorgeous Drexel Heritage couch - for $200!). One day I came across a white ironstone tureen, ribbed body with a swan's head for the top and handles. I couldn't believe my eyes - and for five dollars! And then I saw the reason why it was there - one of the swan's beaks was broken off at the tip. And just for a second I was going to pass it by - but I took it home. Do you know that it sits on top of a victorian walnut ladie's desk like it was made to go there! AND you don't even notice the chip.

Didn't mean to be so long winded - I guess I'm trying to say that imperfections sometime fit into another's 'perfect'!!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Dear Everyone: I love all of your stories so much! It's wonderful to know that so many people cherish the beauty of imperfection.

CheshireCatsGrin said...

I am not married and I do not have children but I know exactly what you mean in this post and you have expressed it brilliantly :)

Kitschen Pink said...

Lovely post! It all works fine until our boy visits less flexible homes - so we have to teach the difference between creativity on bedroom walls and respect for Grandma's interior decoration choices! So far so good....! t.x

Clarity said...

As for home, agreed, the aim is sanctuary not museum. When it comes to perfection, I subscribe to the belief that you must aim for it, knowing you can never achieve it; Perfection is Divine. By aiming high, you come near it, which is good enough :)

Laura [What I Like] said...

One of my favorite house porn shots ever is from a french home magazine that I came across many years ago. The photo was of a beautiful couch torn up by an overly enthusiastic cat. It was perfection, and all these years later I can still see it clear as day.

Annie Empiric said...

Great advice and timely as just yesterday the husband broke a treasured piece of my vintage amber barware. I didn't get upset but inside I was sad. And now... I'm not!

Donna said...

How have I never found your blog before this? Luckily a friend, who knows I loved the Grey Gardens documentary and who knows I have a (gag gift) portrait of Colin Firth hanging in my home office, sent me a link to your blog... LOVE it!!! This post grabbed me... One of my favorite quotes is Rachel Ashwell's, "Perfection is too daunting." Amen to that! I even did a post about it (if you're interested you can see it here http://anenchantedcottage.blogspot.com/2009/01/craving-spring-faux-tulips-thrifted_8551.html)...

I'll be adding you to my sidebar as I'll definitely be popping by on a regular basis!

Donna @ An Enchanted Cottage

pam@pixelimpress said...

love this post. this WAS me. did the same thing. foraged for the untouched new item in a store. everything had to be perfect at home. if something got scratched, it was ruined. no more. pixel was my turning point. getting a puppy lowers your perfection point. scratches, dents, chew marks... it's character now.

方大同Khalil said...

cool!i love it!AV,無碼,a片免費看,自拍貼圖,伊莉,微風論壇,成人聊天室,成人電影,成人文學,成人貼圖區,成人網站,一葉情貼圖片區,色情漫畫,言情小說,情色論壇,臺灣情色網,色情影片,色情,成人影城,080視訊聊天室,a片,A漫,h漫,麗的色遊戲,同志色教館,AV女優,SEX,咆哮小老鼠,85cc免費影片,正妹牆,ut聊天室,豆豆聊天室,聊天室,情色小說,aio,成人,微風成人,做愛,成人貼圖,18成人,嘟嘟成人網,aio交友愛情館,情色文學,色情小說,色情網站,情色,A片下載,嘟嘟情人色網,成人影片,成人圖片,成人文章,成人小說,成人漫畫,視訊聊天室,性愛,a片,AV女優,聊天室,情色

thanks for sharing said...

Thanks for sharring importent information in this blog.
It was very nice.
Aşk flashları,yazılı soruları'new generation portal.

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin