I remember the days when parents had no idea what grades you were getting until after your report card came out each term. That is if you handed it them, and even then, unless the teacher or guidance counselor called, you could probably come up with enough excuses to make it through another term. Today, I can sign on and see where my daughter stands by course, by grade, by test, by quiz, by assignment.
After all, real time metrics. Right?
While still trying to decide if this is a good advancement, my wife and I both check frequently, including last night before bedtime. The girl, well I guess I should admit, young woman who started off slow with three failing grades now sits with 3 A’s, 1 B, 1 C, and her last two classes now in passing territory. I showed her and told her that we were proud of the work that she has put in. She, in turn, focused not on the recognition, but her continued struggles, challenges, and missed assignments. My attempt at recognizing progress seemingly failed.
That is normal. Not just with my daughter, but with most of us.
We are taught to shun, avoid, or deflect failure. Overcompensate for weaknesses. Hide what is broken. Mask our imperfections. Don’t believe me? Photoshop and beauty products make millions doing just that.
Yet, there are learnings in failure, there is beauty in imperfection. As Leonard Cohen once said, “Cracks are there to allow the light to shine through.”
During this morning’s daily meditation, the lesson focused on the Japanese art form known as “Kintsugi”, also known as Kintsukuroi or “golden repair.” Where you or I may toss out a broken piece of pottery or attempt to repair it so that the cracks are never visible, the Japanese celebrate the breaks by repairing them with a lacquer missed with powdered gold or silver. They embrace the damage, the imperfections, and in fact celebrate them by letting them stand out.
During the drive to school this morning, I talked to my daughter about this, and tried to encourage her to accept the ups and downs, as long as she was making progress. To take the time to celebrate moving forward, and to not let those times when she moves backwards to define her, but instead see it as part of the journey. My words were met with silence. As I looked over to her to see if she was paying attention, with the sun barely peaking over the horizon, I noticed sparkles. The young woman who is increasingly conscious of her looks, who rarely makes it out the door on time and as a result, almost never wears make up, had applied something under her eyes that gave off sparkles.
She wasn’t masking her perceived imperfections – instead, she was allowing them to sparkle. She was being her authentic self. She was, for the moment, allowing herself to shine.
I hope you have a sparkle filled day!