Perfectly Imperfect

I’ve been reading a lot lately about living fully in the moment.  About how it feeds creativity, creates joy, and lessens stress.  It’s easy to think how you could add touch-key experiences to your everyday life when you have a moment to think about it.  But throw in two or three things (or people) that need your attention all at the same time, and deliberate living tends to fall on the back burner – right behind the laundry and the vacuuming.

I’ve spent a lot of years thinking, “Well, when I have a better job…”, “When things settle down…”, “When we have a bigger house…” – THEN I will be able to live how I want to live.  I just have to get over this one hump; just have to get around this next bend …

The truth is that life happens in those spaces of “just as soon as”.  And it’s not ever going to be as calm and effortlessly perfect as we might want them to be. Those coffee-house commercial moments are hard-won between hours of multi-tasking, deadlines, bills, taxes and “Mommy, I need more water!”.

So far I’ve been interrupted 3 times writing this blog post.

Author T Thorn Coyle writes that we can bring ourselves back into the moment by taking something that we do every day, like grasping a doorknob, and turning them into ‘keys’.  Where the simple act of touching the doorknob brings us out of autopilot and back into the here and now.  And I don’t doubt her.  I think that this skill can be developed over time.  Just as soon as …

For me, and I suspect for a lot of other people, it takes something a little more abrasive than a doorknob.  I need something that trips me.  I need something that can catch my attention in the same way that catching yourself before you fall draws you into one point of focus.  A friend of mine refers to this state of mind as ‘hitting your thumb with a hammer’.

Just the other day, I discovered what that thing is.  This, is one of my favourite coffee mugs:

Coffee mug

It’s nothing fancy.  It wasn’t lovingly handcrafted by anyone.  I picked it up at the grocery store because it is the same shape as a bunch of our other mugs and I liked the colour.  If you look closely, you can see me and my shiny white iPhone reflected in the finish, which I am sure is mass-produced and machine applied.

What makes this a touch-key for me is this:

Coffee mug

This spot right by the handle has two little marks where the colour was not applied evenly under the glaze.  The missing colour created dents that I feel every time I pull it out of the cupboard or put it away.  It trips me.  Draws me back into the moment.  The reason this trips me every time I pick it up is because ordinarily, I would have checked for imperfections before I bought it.  And I didn’t that time.  I just grabbed it and absently added it to the cart.

Absent-mindedness is what created my touch-key.


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5 thoughts on “Perfectly Imperfect”

  1. I always want to leave more in my comments about your posts, but you speak so fully about your topic that all I can think to say is, “Man I love this post!”. Oy. I have been reading some Thich Naht Hanh lately and his emphasis on living in the moment is apparent in all his writings.

    I love the idea of letting imperfections grab you and take you into the present moment again! A photographer friend of mine just did a short series of photos all on the heads of rusty nails. Some of them driven into telephone poles, fences, various and sudry pieces of wood, et cetera. But I was awazed at how many colors and textures they had when you really stopped to look at them. Kind of like “stopping to smell the roses” but in my case “stopping to leer at rusty nails”!

    1. I love that sort of photography. When I was in school, I did a short series called Hearts in the City – one was in tree bark, one was in rust on a pole. I should probably get back to it one of these days; now that I am in a new city.

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