Three times today to three different people, I quoted Leonard Cohen’s lyrics: “There’s a crack in everything. It’s how the light gets in.” This message is profound for the world we live in today where wrinkles are blasted with botox, old buildings are torn down to build new, irregular things discarded as “damaged.” We are led to believe everything must be perfect – free of blemishes, weathering, and cracks.
I find it refreshing the truth is imperfections give us character, fortitude, and courage to face challenges knowing all we have already overcome. Cohen’s lyrics are based on Zen beliefs where nothing is perfect. Everyone and everything need light to survive. Imperfections allow the light in to nourish and help us survive and thrive.
Wabi-sabi represents a Japanese world view based on the acceptance of imperfection. Interestingly, in Leonard Koren’s (not Cohen) book Wabi Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets, and Philosophers he notes, “Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional.”
My mother was an artist and created two statues. When I moved them to the studio where I write, I noticed the female’s wing was cracked. Not being an artist myself, I wondered how I would fix it. Then I realized I didn’t need to “fix” her because everyone and everything has cracks. The androgynous statue: Sahu Atman meaning Sands of Time is made of found objects and mixed media recycling old, used and broken bits and pieces of prior times. In the artist’s statement she explained, “The severed arm is indicative of the wounds we all experience over time and our ability to move forward in the face of adversities.”
Imperfections are what make us unique, humble, and compassionate. They bring awareness – letting the light in.