A Little Happier: Sometimes, Flawed Can Be More Perfect Than Perfection

This is one of my favorite Secrets of Adulthood: Sometimes, flawed can be more perfect than perfection.

I love the humming that’s audible in this recording of Glenn Gould’s performance. For me, the “flaw” of the humming makes the music more beautiful.

What do you think — agree, disagree?

If you’re interested in this idea, it also relates to the haunting Japanese concept of wabi-sabi–-the beauty of “the imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.”

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Happier listening!

  • Nicola

    My eldest son has Down Syndrome and I couldn’t agree more with what you say. His ‘imperfection’ in having an extra chromosome makes each milestone all the sweeter in a way I haven’t experienced with my younger son. He is also emotionally far superior to his peers, something I’ve now noticed in many children with DS.
    He is the light in so many people’s lives and his extra chromosome is definitely part of that!!

    • gretchenrubin

      What a beautiful illustration of this principle.

  • ARM

    Yes, I love Glenn Gould, and his humming is at least part of the charm. However, there’s an irony here: Glenn Gould was not just a musician but a documentarian and essayist, and his opinion pieces make clear that he thinks recorded music is better than live music, precisely because it can be artificially perfected. So why did he never clean up his own recordings? Very mysterious. . .

  • Mimi Gregor

    I agree that the flawed is more perfect than the perfect, and it is the heart of my home: I love the wabi-sabi look of old items… found items… hand-me-downs… all put together in their own imperfect way. Things that are shiny and new just don’t appeal to me as much; they have no personality… no story.

    Also, I need to inject a proviso: that there is no such concept as “perfection”. Here is my train of thought: if something were actually “perfect”, it would, over time, become boring. If it is boring, it can no longer be perfect. Therefore, perfection can only exist in brief spurts at best. QED.

  • HEHink

    Currently reading The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith. This reminds me of the subtitle: “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” I love where she encourages readers to stop apologizing for what we believe to be flaws in our homes (little tears in the upholstery, scuff marks on the floor), and to embrace them instead as signs of life.