The Beauty of Imperfection

Perfectionism is said to be a personality trait that is common among people with M.E./CFS. If that is true, it is rather ironic that life hits you with imperfection with such a force when you become severely ill. It is as if the universe is saying to you: “life is imperfect, things are not the way you want them to be, just deal with it!”

While it is a tough lesson to learn, during my illness I’ve had to learn to tolerate imperfection. And in some respects I have actually learned to like it. Aesthetically for example, I feel that imperfection is so often much more subtle, complex and interesting compared to “simple” perfection. I was so happy to learn that the Japanese have even given a special name to the beauty of imperfection  – wabi sabi.

My photography, at least from technical point of view, is very imperfect. No doubt a big part of it is a lack of skill and perhaps interest in the technical nitty gritty of photography. But my M.E. plays a big part too: because I lack stamina, I have to work quickly. There’s no extra time or energy to play with too many settings and look for the perfect angle, I just want to capture the moment before flaking out. And wobbly hands and legs don’t help, particularly at low light levels (and using a tripod makes things too slow, and is suprisingly strenuous at least for me).

Here is my favourite “technically imperfect but wouldn’t want it any other way” picture, taken last spring in the garden of our previous house in London.