Archive for Thursday, July 19, 2001

True beauty cannot be blemished

July 19, 2001

"You can't keep anything nice anymore" is a sentiment often expressed by my grandfather, known as "Papa" to his loved ones.

One particular instance that provoked this response took place after he and grandma made a trek to the local Wal-Mart. After his shopping excursion, he and grandma found their minivan had been ornamented with a long scratch by a passer-by who obviously likened scratching a vehicle to art.

Though disheartened, Papa restored his vehicle's exterior to near-original form. But, the thought was imbedded into his mind if you have anything you plan on enjoying and treating with respect, there's always someone or something that will try and destroy it.

Try taking your vehicle to the nearest shopping establishment to test this theory. Park in an empty part of the lot and then leave for three hours. It's almost certain that upon your arrival, a shopping cart will have miraculously made its way to your car and taken away some portion of your vehicle's paint. A strong gust of wind may even knock that same cart into your vehicle a couple times, producing either multiple scratches or a ding or two.

There may be a solution to keep you from worrying about this incident. It may not prevent problematic occurrences, but it may help you rest better at night.

After spending seemingly endless amounts of money on lesser-quality guitars throughout my 10 years of playing, it was time to buck up and spend some solid cash on a quality instrument. The search began through magazines, catalogs, the Internet, guitar stores, pawn shops, you name it. Then, I found it. It was a quality piece of craftsmanship. It was made domestically and most importantly, it played like a dream. It didn't look too shabby either. However, it came with a price that was by far above what I was normally willing to pay. There appeared to be no choice. If quality comes with a price, then here's my credit card.

How did I justify this purchase? I convinced myself that I'd take care of it at great lengths. It would not be touched by any other man but its owner.

Finally, after years of throwing money down the proverbial toilet, I made an investment that would yield long-term benefits. It was perfect; just what I wanted. I didn't even look for another guitar; I had found "the one" (which brings to mind a theory that soulmate searching should be limited to catalogs and mail order, but we'll save that one for later).

Then, the unfathomable one night my wonderful and oh-so-costly instrument received a scratch, a blemish, an imperfection by a careless handler (me). At first, I was devastated. You can't repair something like that without losing its original look.

What to do? Feel relieved.

By slightly damaging my precious piece of equipment, one thing became clear I, like so many others in a society focusing on "things," am an idiot. With this blemish, I was now free to not worry about it anymore. In fact, doing so in the first place was my biggest problem. I put too much importance on the item's "perfection," when I should have been grateful I was even able to get it at all. This type of thinking can be found with anything perceived as acquirable, be it relationships, a piece of merchandise or even qualities in another person.

It's so much easier to want something perfect. But when you find beauty in the blemishes, then you'll find true beauty.

The next time you purchase a CD at the local record store, go ahead and break the case. When you get your next new pair of shoes, go ahead and scuff them up right off the bat. When you meet someone new, find out that little thing about him or her that is less than perfect. If you can find beauty in the flaw and realize the big picture is much better than perceived perfection, pat yourself on the back and go on.

But if you can't get past the blemishes in life, be careful there may be a shopping cart on its way to take your paint right off.

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