Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Imperfect Donuts

I had an interesting experience at Starbuck’s yesterday. A friend and I were in Manhattan and went to a Starbucks for our morning cup of coffee. I ordered a bagel and my friend had an old fashioned donut.

As the barista got our pastries from the case, she asked my friend, “Do you mind if your donut has a bit of a break in it?”

My friend answered that she didn’t mind at all.

The barista told us we’d be surprised at how many people return pastries if they are not perfect.

I thought this was very interesting. What is it, in us that would object to an imperfect donut? Why would it be important for a donut to be perfectly intact in order for us to enjoy it? Is there something about the continuity of its physical form that enhances its flavor?

I do understand that we eat partially with our eyes. Having food that appeals to all our senses, smell, site and taste enhances the experience. I get that. I do.
To be addicted to a ‘perfect appearance’ however, seems a bit dysfunctional to me. I think about the chemicals we use to produce picture perfect fruits and vegetables. I wonder if ingesting all those chemicals is worth the perfect appearance.

This carries over into our relationship to our physical bodies, our clothing, and our home furnishings. We can get carried away with the desire to have things look perfect, to the point where we miss the value that exists in the thing itself.
I often will eat the ‘imperfect’ cookies or rolls from a batch, and save the best for my guests. I want to give the best of what I have to my loved ones. I would never dream of throwing away the ‘imperfect’ specimens however, and if all of my cookies were imperfect, I certainly hope I would go ahead and share them, because they too would be the best I had to offer at that moment in time.

It’s an internal evaluation system worth examining. I know that my run in with the imperfect donut yesterday has altered the way I will look at some of my choices in life.

I want to be careful not to get sucked into a belief system where I will not accept imperfect things, people or experiences into my life. Imperfection is unavoidable, and is in many ways a great teacher for us in our life journey. Learning to embrace imperfection is a wonderful practice!

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