I crawled up the staircase on my hands and knees, scooping up the tufts of Carmen fur nesting in the corners of the steps. This after sweeping yesterday and vacuuming two days before. It is a never ending battle with cleanliness. Schyterbolle, sadly, will not ever find itself in the godliness category.
As I rounded the top, I pondered over perfectionism. It must be terrible to be greeted by the imperfection of the world every single day. I wandered past Carmen, sleeping on her bed in front of the fan to toss the fistful of her fur in the trashcan. She didn't wake when I stroked her fuzzy head. I love that hairy old dog because of all that she is. Her life is perfect. Picking up a pound of hair a day is worth her company.
I try to view the world as a magical place. I wonder at the miracles of difference. I strain to see the quiddity of imperfection.
It would be a lie to say I am immune to the ways of perfectionism. This week, I succumbed to my own imperfections. I have shunned tan skin since the diagnosis of my cancer twenty months ago. It was my badge of survivorship when someone would poke fun at my pasty white legs. But every time I gazed at my face in the mirror, I felt ugly.
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I faux-tanned this week. I bought some Jergens daily tanning lotion and Tan Towels and I changed the color of my skin.
Immediately, the compliments started rolling in.
You look terrific! Did you lose weight?
You look beautiful today.
Your skin is fantastic in that color blue.
It was the same for me when I first turned gray and colored my hair. Even my own mother, who was horrified by the thought that I had become a red head finally saw me, she said, "You know, I guess God does make the occasional mistake."
I rather liked my graying hair at the tender age of thirty-two. Other people didn't see it my way.
Are you okay? Do you need to sit down?
Wow. You're thirty-two?
You look tired. You're not coming down with something are you?
When my favorite clerk in the check out line at the grocery store said she was afraid I was about to fall out, I caved and made an appointment at the salon.
I have tried valiantly to embrace my imperfections, love all parts of myself, even when others don't. But this week, I have decided that I am an artist. My job is to paint. Now I'm just doing it on my body.
We'll call it a performance piece on the manipulation of perfection.
*The cute little guy yawning is from zooborns.