I’m a teacher by trade, and I’ve written in past posts (here) about my wonderful International Students and their journey through English acquisition. I could write volumes about the lessons they taught me in our time together. Studying with people from all over the world has truly been one of the most profound endeavors of my professional life. My students have opened my eyes to fundamental truths, reaffirmed my faith in humanity, quelled my fears, and given me hope and inspiration.
My duty as their teacher was always to accept them where they were on the learning continuum, and nudge them two steps further at a time through kindness, friendship, and encouragement. Whether they were five or thirty-five, I honored their vulnerability in trying something new- something, in effect, outside of themselves. Language is part and parcel of who we are at our core. Living, breathing, and feeling in a new language require growth from within, and that is scary regardless of age.
For some of my students, beginning at the beginning meant starting with hello and seeing their joy when they could put two words together and say, “Hello, Ashley.” Often I had to teach adults how to form letters in a new alphabet. Tiny girls from Thailand learned pronouns and adjectives through Disney Princess books. My 10 year old friend, Mory, from Senegal came alive when I took him to the musical instruments classroom, and he was intent on learning each name. Every minute oozed with learning, and as a teacher that is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But never, ever, ever was perfection part of our learning. Imperfection means that learning can take place. Imperfection is opportunity. Imperfection is on the Side of the Good. To my ears, their imperfect English was a symphony of their courage and resilience.
The Japanese cultivated a term, wabi-sabi, that acknowledges imperfection. The notion embodies the idea of impermanence, imperfection, and that nothing is ever finished. We are never finished. And yet, in so many ways the world pushes us to appear perfect.
Imperfection is individuality. Imperfection frees us from other people’s expectations. Our own wabi-sabi is what makes us beautiful. Our opportunity to grow the Good is to celebrate our wabi-sabi moments. We can find ways to expand our knowledge of ourselves, and our ability to change course when things fall off the expected path. More importantly, we can encourage one another to see the beauty of imperfection. What if your current reality suddenly shifts, your core is rocked, and part of you becomes cracked? Will you fall apart, or will you allow the Light to shine through your cracks? Will you see the cracks as space to breathe deeper? Do you have the courage to be imperfect for the Greater Good?