The Gift of Imperfection


commons.wikimediaorgThe lyrics of Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem” go like this:

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.

Whenever I feel cracked and broken, which is often these days, I go back to those four sentences. They say that imperfection can be a very good thing. Or that failure is really not so bad.

“We would never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world,” wrote Helen Keller. Consider Oprah. She began her career about 40 miles from my home as an anchorwoman for the Baltimore news. She was demoted because she became too emotional when interviewing people. She would cry on camera. So the station gave Oprah her own talk show. To get rid of her. And she did pretty well with it.

I relish these kinds of false-start success stories … Albert Einstein failed his college entrance exam. Walt Disney was fired from his first media job. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school varsity basketball team. Dr. Seuss was rejected 43 times before his first story was published. These tales inspire me because nothing has ever come easily to me.

When I am in the midst of a relapse, I always label it as bad, that I’m descending quickly and about to hit rock bottom. But if I look back historically, my relapses have preceded moments of fruition and growth. The trajectory isn’t linear but rather circular, so in that moment of intense suffering, some goodness—some progress that I won’t know of until I’m out of it—is happening.

Originally published on Sanity Break at Everyday Health


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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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3 Responses
  1. Frank

    This is such a great post – we really are far more ‘normal’ than we realize (in our imperfections). And it’s so terrific to remember that we can try again – and again – and again. No reason to give up or give in. Every reason to suck it up and try again. Peaks and valleys are an element of life – and illness. Sort of funny in an unfunny way. Thank you, Therese.