I'm clothed in imperfection, pretty literally. My shirt is a screw up from work that I salvaged because I'd made my everyday shirt imperfect with obscene amounts of ink. The shirt I screwed up is actually perfect but for a couple of holes below the waistline where I "bit" the shirt while printing it. So now I'm doing some free advertising for Coppercraft Distillery while sitting on my floral couch after a long day of work at a local concession stand.
At the stand this theme of imperfection recurred. Right across our living room, on another floral couch sits a giant bag of popcorn. Poppy, as I'm calling the lumpy thing, was headed for the dumpster. Now he will slowly become part of my roommates, which is probably better but who knows what Poppy preferred - Lord knows I can't ask him (or her I guess). Poppy is the product of excess popping on our part, but the key insight here is that Poppy wasn't bad when we were going to throw him away. Poppy was only going to be bad (sorry Poppy but it's true, we all go bad some day). In a culture obsessed with perfection, throwing away things that will eventually go bad is normal. I don't know of many food businesses that have solid systems for disposing of food that's still good. That said, thank God composting is becoming a thing because at least then we aren't completely wasting the soon to be bad food.
I think our obsession with perfection, and thus imperfection, is costing us. Wider society as a whole could learn a lot from the art world's conception of the imperfect. It's not existent. Who could point to an imperfection in Van Gogh's Starry Night or Michelangelo's David? Even the word imperfection feels foreign when describing art. There is good art and bad art certainly, but imperfect art? Hell, perfect art? Does such a thing exist?
Art's sliding scale of good and bad seems a better fit for our world. What if we could sell T-shirts that have a flaw? Stale popcorn? Maybe that doesn't sound like an exciting future, one full of badly printed T's and subpar popped corn. I mean they'd all be cheaper. We'd have less waste. Still not excited? There's a deeper reason I think we could use a dose of imperfection.
Just last month I was on the Oglala Sioux Tribe reservation in Pine Ridge, North Dakota. The Oglala Sioux have been around the block a few times and the center of their ancient worldview is that we are all related (Mitakuye Oyasin). (I'm getting back to imperfection, trust me). In Lakota culture, we are all a part of the Sacred Hoop of life (cue, "It's the circle of life!!!"). The Sacred Hoop is expressed in many parts of Lakota culture, one of them being the Dream-catcher, which is pretty self-explanatory. The beautiful thing about the dream-catcher is that the creator of the dream-catcher traditionally weaves in an imperfection, in a humble acknowledgement that neither they, nor their creation are perfect. The dream-catcher is no less for this. In fact it is more, for being imbued with great care. Imagine if we took the same care with our products. If we believed that we were accountable to what we made and what we made it with. We would have less waste, more "imperfection", and more beauty.