Wrinkles and Warts

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A friend sent me four photographs of a calla lily. They were all beautiful. “Which is your favorite?” she asked. For me, it was the one with a dark, richly colored background, of a flower rising out of surreal blackness, with just a touch of focus in exactly the right spot. “But what about the blemishes on the petal, or the part that is dying, do they bother you? Should I get rid of them?”

In a world where we replace and remove with reckless abandon, where fashion portraits and wildlife head shots are scrubbed and polished, where software makeup is caked on thick, no, I love life’s texture. I cherish the bumps and barnacles, the wrinkles and warts, the real scars that talk about life lived. It is personal to be sure, but I like real. Cleaned up flowers getting ready to parade into a photography pageant have as much soul as the tabloid presentation of a Hollywood star. Perfection, as the old Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabe suggests, lies in imperfection.