I’ve never liked perfection, whether it be in my work, my play, or my life in general. Flawed beauty is my favorite kind of beauty. Those imperfections — whether it be human or an object — are what attracts me to the entity. Over-polished and over-exaggerated have never been a directional marker for myself. Give me a rusted out pickup truck with a decent engine, an old farmhouse that will rise from the ashes with the right kind of TLC, or a character walking down the street you might be unsure of at first, but who holds the secrets to a life well-lived.
I think one of the main reasons — perhaps the biggest — I wandered into writing and journalism is the mere fact you get to interact with countless individuals from all backgrounds, in an effort to better understanding not only the world around you, but also your place in the world.
There will be those days where I feel like I’m spinning my wheels, or maybe a disagreement set me off in the wrong mood to start the day. Maybe it’s getting red light after red light when you had to be somewhere about 10 minutes ago. Whatever the case, you then find yourself in the presence of those who can straighten out that bad day into one of good, and of promise.
It’s fascinating when you think about a newborn baby. Completely untouched by the world, its chaos and tranquility. And how that’s the most “perfect” you’ll ever be. But, it isn’t all downhill from there. It all depends how you view the hills and mountains of the minutes, days and years ahead of your birth. You can either take the high road or the low road. And for most of your childhood and early adolescence, that ultimate path resides in those who are your parents, caregivers and peers. You initially rely on them for guidance, protection and, ultimately, love and acceptance.
But, then I ponder, “Well, isn’t the happily deceased body of an elderly person the most ‘perfect’ you’ll ever be?” I think so. I mean, all those life experiences, memories, physical deformations and physical attributes. That’s perfection, in essence, seeing as your unique body, mind, heart and soul have led to you becoming a work of art before you find yourself six feet under, hopefully with a few good words and sentiments shared by friends and loved ones as they lay you to rest, eh?
Thus, this weekend, yours truly got a real deal lesson in humility. It’s interesting what a crucial emotional crossroads and couple days of self-reflection can do for a person. Following a Friday evening of trials and tribulations, I found myself licking my wounds for most of Labor Day Weekend.
Awakening on Saturday morning, it took me a moment to realize just where I was. OK, I’m at my friend’s house in Asheville, in their guest room, safe and sound. But, now what? Well, let’s make sense of the previous night’s adventures, and just how much of a fool I made of myself, shall we?
It’s a truly monumental experience when you find yourself driving back home to Waynesville, alone and in your thoughts, windows rolled down, with the crisp morning air trying to coax you back to normalcy, and yet, all the while, one question keeps arising: “Am I really an asshole?” In the words of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, “Was my mother wrong?”
With those questions posed, you think back (and with new, yet older, eyes) to old girlfriends and bad breakups, to family arguments and banishments, to academic pursuits or the lack thereof. Did I just not see all the red flags or danger signs? Well, you did. We all did. We just chose to ignore them seeing as we either were too young and stubborn to care, or a pyrrhic victory was more important than the preservation of someone else’s feelings and well-being.
I can’t be the one to decide if I’m a public nuisance. That’s up to the public-at-large. But, what I can control is my reactions to people, places and situations. That’s a lifelong process, but one that’s as rewarding as it is a struggle to achieve. It’s a worthwhile pursuit, where I think that the majority of folks out there are worthy of, myself included.
A lot of us come into our existence full of “piss and vinegar,” as they say. But, as the years go along, you hope to fill your cup with the waters of salvation and redemption that dilute the bitter, with the honey of love and spices of life added in to sweeten the deal.
It’s like Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ In The Years” (rest easy, Walter Becker): “Are you reelin’ in the years / Stowin’ away the time / Are you gatherin’ up the tears / Have you had enough of mine …”
Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all.
1 Hit country act Little Texas will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, at The Strand at 38 Main in Waynesville.
2 The 12th annual “Music at the Mill” will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Francis Grist Mill in Waynesville.
3 Mountain Layers Brewing Company (Bryson City) will host Allie Burbrink & Frank Lee (Americana/bluegrass) at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9.
4 Pickin’ on the Square (Franklin) will host Darren Nicholson Band (Americana/country) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9.
5 Andrews Brewing Company (Andrews) will host Marshall Ballew (Americana/folk) at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8.