Archive for October, 2014

“Perfectly” Imperfect

Friday, October 17th, 2014

My husband and I recently took a “bucket list” trip to Sanibel Island, Florida. For many years I have been reading about this unique barrier island famous for its outstanding shelling.  This island is rather unique due to its east-west orientation (rather than north-south like most islands)and it has a reputation around the world as offering some of the best shelling on our planet. Since shelling is one of my passions, I felt these Sanibel beaches were calling my name, so off we flew to Florida to search for some special treasures that the oceans were ready to give up and share with us!

Our arrival to Sanibel just happened to be at sunset that night, and just in time to watch the brightly flaming orange sun slowly sink below the western edges of the Florida gulf coast outlined by purplish-hued waters.  I quickly snapped a picture with my cell phone as my husband and I both gasped at the raw beauty of the the multi-layered sky that went from shades of violet to pink to bright orange in an explosion of tropical splendor.  With the palm trees in the foreground to complete the frame of this “slice of heaven” photo, I quickly snapped several more pictures to make sure I had successfully captured this moment filled with awe.

As we later learned while on our island vacation, the sister islands of Sanibel and Captiva are famous for their breath-taking sunsets and thus, there is a predictable late afternoon ritual of folks flocking to the beaches to stake out their favorite perch.   Since we are major fans of sunsets, especially when they involve the ocean, my husband and I quickly became members of this sunset crowd and witnessed some spectacular “grand fireball finales”  while there.  We were amazed that each night’s sunset was unique and different from the one that had preceded it.  Some looked like a perfect painting that an artist had created from a diverse palette of colors, with brilliant hues of the rainbow exploding before our eyes.  Yet, other sunsets were marked by layers of clouds that refused to give up hiding this sought-after fiery planet and teased us with a fleeting glimpse of yellow rays as the sun quietly slipped below the horizon.  We concluded by the end of our trip that no two sunsets were alike, and although some were definitely more spectacular than others, they each were “perfect” in their own way, however imperfect they might actually appear.

Our shelling on the beaches proved to be a glorious treasure hunt each day with a search for the perfect shells.  We collected many varieties of shells in assorted shapes, sizes, and colors.  Some were unbroken and perfect with their intact edges and outlines, while others had a chip or a tiny hole that would definitely qualify it as a “broken” shell.  As the week unfolded and I examined my new treasures, I soon realized that some of the prettiest finds were those that were not perfect, the shells you would put in the broken pile.   In cleaning my new treasures after I returned home, it was obvious to me that many of my favorite new shells were not whole, were not intact, and most importantly, were not perfect.   Yet, they were “perfect” to me in all of their imperfection.  They still had value, worth, and their own story to tell.  If we only knew the thousands of miles these shells had traveled, the storms they had survived, and the waves they had been carried by, to finally be deposited at this beach at this moment in time.  It did not matter to me that some of them had arrived with scars from their journey to get here, that they were chipped, cracked, and broken.   In its own right, each and every shell was still beautiful, and was to me “perfectly” imperfect.

Much like the sunsets and the seashells, we as humans share the same imperfections.  We go through our lives being tossed about by the rough waves of life and come away from these events with some rough edges, a wound that causes brokenness, and at times a hole through our entire soul.  Imperfection is a common thread in our human condition.   It does not reflect weakness, but to the contrary, it displays our strength of character, of our struggle to survive the storms of life.  Our imperfections help to shape us and move us forward.  Embracing this imperfection is the first step to celebrating being “perfectly” imperfect in all we are and all we do.

So, our bucket list trip to Sanibel Island was worth every penny and did not disappoint us.  We came away feeling a sense of connection to the waters, the people, and the coastal nature.   We had the pleasure of watching brilliant sunsets, dining on amazing seafood, and exploring new beaches and the shell treasures they held.   What we came to understand and appreciate in a new way is that whether it was the sunsets or the seashells, we learned how to value and celebrate the “perfectly” imperfect in the world around us. And, even more importantly, we have a new awareness of how unique and valuable we all are as human beings in our own perfect imperfections.

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