In Good Will Hunting Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) poses the question to Will Hunting (Matt Damon): ‘You’re not perfect, sport, and let me save you the suspense: this girl you’ve met, she’s not perfect either. But the question is whether or not you’re perfect for each other.’
The Japanese have something called Wabi Sabi. It is the art of appreciating the perfection of something that is imperfect. Say for example you had a vase that had a crack in it. If you practice Wabi Sabi you would merely think the crack added to the vase’s perfection – made it more prefect in fact and you might display the vase so a spotlight highlighted the crack. This is the essence of Wabi Sabi and this is a practice we can bring into our relationships honouring the ‘cracks’ or imperfections in ourselves and our mates.
By re-framing our relationships in this way, instead of moaning or complaining about all the little things we hate about our partner, we start to focus on the beautiful relationship dynamic which is working – for both of us! This way we can get to a place where we can really appreciate the good things about our relationship and our partner. In other words, instead of focusing on problems we think are with the other person, we bring the energy back into ourselves and this shift in perception allows us to let go for the things which we think drive us crazy and release them. So, in fact, it is our perception of the relationship which changes – often bringing about the changes we wanted in the first place!
My dear friends and favourite couple who have been together over 30 years shared with me the wisdom of a conversation that transformed their relationship. – ‘When I was arguing with my partner to change and be more assertive she said to me “I am not you and if I did turn into you would you still want to be with me?’ This was a revelation! Of course we don’t want to be with someone identical to us yet we can spend a lot of energy trying to argue for people to behave like we would, when it was the difference that attracted us! Once my friend thought about this it changed her perception of what to expect and she started to appreciate that they did not have to do things the same way.
We’re often brainwashed by society and particularly the media to think we should settle for nothing less than perfection in a mate. Not only does that put a great deal of pressure on the other person but it puts pressure on us to be ‘perfect’ as well. Doesn’t that sound tiring to you? Also it can lead us to reject potential partners who may be able to offer us the love and soul connection we’re seeking just because we see them as being flawed (and don’t forget this is a two-way street and nobody likes rejection!). Now I’m not talking about accepting abuse of any kind which is another matter entirely. But seeing someone as they really are, and accepting their faults and foibles, is the essence of true and lasting love.
If we look at mythology both ancient and modern we see this theme echoed. In the myth of Psyche and Eros, Eros is a demi-God who falls in love with Psyche, a mortal. They marry but she is told she cannot look on his face. Her friends convince her she has married a monster and while he is sleeping she lights a candle revealing Eros in all his beauty, but he wakes when she spills hot candle wax on him and flees. In the film Avatar, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) has to rescue Jake (Sam Worthington) in his human form, from suffocation. The message of both stories is that we have to see and accept someone as they really are before we can really know, and therefore, love them. This is the essence of Wabi Sabi love.
The beauty of Wabi Sabi is looking at the opportunities a relationship offers for growth, realising we are not perfect and neither is our partner either, but recognising that we may be perfect for each other!