Thursday, August 15, 2019

Perfect Imperfections

Knotted my way through another macrame project this weekend.

Plenty of cord left over from my last project.
A mostly straight stick from my maple tree that has been begging for an artful purpose.
And a big blank section of fence near my backyard patio that was ready for an upgrade.

I'm a confident knot-tier so it was with sunny optimism and big dreams that I began my project.

Looking back, everything went well. A row of Larks Head knots to anchor the cords, and then Square Knots for days, alternating between rows to create the simple but oh, so pleasing diamond pattern. And once the fringes were trimmed off, a simple Overhand Knot on each cord to keep it from fraying.

Working outside on my front porch on a pair of lovely summer days, I focused on keeping my rows straight and my knots even. Working as precisely as I possibly could, I enjoyed every zen moment of mathematical concentration and tactile repetition.

I was certain that my macrame hanging was going to be darn near perfect.

Just before dinner on Sunday, under my supervision, my husband whacked a nail into the fence post and hung my creation. I stepped back to survey the finished look and I realized....

It wasn't perfect.

Not that it wasn't lovely and interesting and right up my aesthetic alley. My macrame hanging was all of those things.

But it wasn't completely, exactly, one hundred percent perfect. To be sure, there were no mistakes or obvious flaws. But my eyes saw how the natural wiggles in the branch sent ripples of imperfection through the cords, and the knots, though carefully placed, were occasionally misaligned. The fringe was meant to be a bit wonky and uneven, but in some parts, ironically, it looked too perfectly straight.

And, to be perfectly honest, those imperfections shocked me. And disappointed me.

* * * * *

Over the next few hours, as my mind puzzled over this strange turn of events, I realized this is how life goes sometimes.

With our friends and families, with our partners and pets, we often try our best. We set our sights high and we have all the best intentions and we put every effort into making things happen just the way we want them to.

We plan a special meal.
We send a friendly text.
We laugh at their jokes.
We let them choose the movie.
We listen.
We try to show that we care.

And many times, maybe even most of the time, we come pretty dang close to getting things right.

But there are times when we look back at our efforts and the voices in our head tell us that we have fallen short.

Or even worse, someone else looks at our efforts and implies, or maybe even tells us straight up that we have fallen short.

But those voices, the voices of hyper-criticism and excessive judgment, are wrong. People are never perfect, and what matters most is that we try. This is no gooey, participation-trophy sentiment but a legitimate argument that the mercy and kindness that we often extend to other people should be applied to ourselves as well.

And if the people around us don't see our efforts and appreciate what we do right instead of calling us out for what we do that is not wrong but merely less than perfect, well, maybe that says more about them than it does about us.

Now when I walk past my macrame hanging, my eyes still leap right to the places that I consider imperfections. But instead of feeling shocked or disappointed, I smile and thank them for what they've taught me. That they were never imperfections at all.

* * * * *

More macrame projects to make your dreams come true:

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