Well guys, in case you haven’t noticed already, I failed. In July I wrote a post about how I was going to do a 30-day challenge. I planned to post a picture every day of something imperfect. It went along with my blog post Filter, which I just reread and find to be pretty dang good, if I do say so myself. But then I looked at the thing that I said I was going to do and felt super deflated. It only took five days to quit, which for me, is actually quite impressive that I even made it that long.
I did pretty well that first week. First I posted a picture of my feet – showing the world my fat stubby toes that make strappy sandals very uncomfortable. But then all these endearing people made comments about how cute they were. My mom went ahead and said the most warm and fuzzy thing I’ve ever heard, “I carried those feet for 9 months so that they could dance to their heart’s content, they have taken you to far away places so that your eyes could see beauty.” I thought to myself, jeez, why ya gotta go and ruin it? They’re imperfect I tell you!
On day three, I posted a picture of a burned piece of chicken but then everyone assured me that it wasn’t that burned. I put up pictures of my scars and I was told they will fade. I had mild success with a lamp-shade hat that made everyone chuckle. I gave myself a point for wit and ingenuity. I made it to #6 – Dirty but skipped # 5 – Help because I just couldn’t figure something out. It all left me wondering what the heck I was trying to accomplish.
On the outside, I know that this endeavor really was helping people. Friends mentioned words like bravery and helping them feel human. But you know what I noticed about myself when I started posting pictures of my imperfections? It became just another game of trying to be perfect. I couldn’t even burn my food good enough for the critics out there. I harrumphed about this to my husband because it wasn’t turning out as planned. Well, actually, I had no idea what I thought would happen. But I didn’t expect to be all agitated about it. He said something useless like, maybe they’re right. That chicken wasn’t really burned.
This all happened the week before I flew to a tiny island off the coast of Honduras. Amidst piles of trash and the gappy smiles of locals was a jungle-y paradise surrounded by some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen. I myself did many imperfect things. I drank a lot and had to have my arm peed on by a dear friend. (These two events were mutually exclusive.) I got eaten alive by sand fleas and smelled a lot of unpleasant smells. But there was so much beauty surrounding each of these imperfect details that I could hardly separate the two. So I decided to a take a break from my photographic journey for the duration of my travels.
And just like an exercise regimen that gets paused for a minute with really good intentions to return to it, I never pressed the play button again. Not because I didn’t have anything to post. In fact, here’s a few that I collected along the way:
I just couldn’t seem to have the right thing to post at the perfectly-numbered time. Shame didn’t come on day eight, it came on day 63 as I listened to a colleague basically read a laundry list of all the things that I’d done wrong in my job last year. Bitter was an un-photographable concept because it dwelled in my heart when I tried to understand why I didn’t receive something I thought I should have. Crooked could easily be a picture on my wall, in fact every one of them in my house could use some straightening. But it’s also a descriptor for my thoughts sometimes and those are the things that, when exposed, impact our ability to have compassion for each other.
Honesty is important work – something I strive for in my writing every day. Photography and social media, however, are not my forte. So to be perfectly predictable, I’m going to leave this project unfinished. (For being a perfectionist, I sure have no problem leaving things undone. The stacks of books around my house that I’ve started and my parched, yet overgrown summer garden are spot-on examples of this irony.) I’ll definitely continue to post about my humanity. It is therapeutic for me and I’m hopeful, for you as well. But I needed to fess up to this failed attempt before it got lost in the details of life. I’ll just pretend that I meant to do this, to prove a point about imperfection.
© 2014 D. Willson