Saturday, February 09, 2008


Matthew in Sacramento, State Capitol, February 2008
My brother Matthew visited the State Capitol this weekend for a high school competition, and the group found the infamous misplaced tile in the floor that generations of Arcadia High students have been excited about for decades.
Legend has it that the architect of the capitol building placed this tile incorrectly himself, to leave his personal mark on the building, yet it seems a little excessive since he designed the entire building (!).
The photo has me thinking about leaving behind legacies and the nature of imperfections. My favorite emotional philosopher, Kim, has often talked about the beauty of slight imperfections or maybe even gross imperfections -- and how they make people, places, and objects even more treasured, unique, and yea, vulnerable.
The quirky misplaced tile sets my thoughts in motion, because it is so different -- a misfit of geometric patterning. Why does it draw the eye to itself so irresistibly and why do I endow it with so much personality and vulnerability? After years of talking with Kim and college friends as we struggled and grew to love our own imperfections, there remains a continuous conflict between loving others for their flaws and yet not forgiving them in ourselves.
I love those imperfections that make people human -- the bald spots, the surgical scars, the absurdly long toe, or a hint of assymetry -- and I love those invisible imperfections that make people real -- a heightened sensitivity, a fiery temper, a secret sadness. It seems to me that we are ultimately composed entirely of irregularities and idiosyncracies like elaborate variations on the basic geometric pattern of humanity. By these unique flaws, we leave our mark on earth and on others.

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