Monday, December 31, 2012

Words We Live By

"It is imperfection — not perfection — that is the end result of the program written into that formidably complex engine that is the human brain ..."

I read these words in a NYT article on Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini, who recently passed away. Dr. Levi-Montalcini was a neurologist who persevered against cultural norms to follow her desire to become a doctor at a time when women were expected to marry, becoming housewives and mothers, and Jewish people were not allowed a profession in her home country. The contributions she made to science, and our understanding of cell growth and nerve networks was revolutionary.

Not a perfect picture; but guess what -
he was having too much fun to stand still.
Her words have struck a chord with me. It reminds me of what made art so fascinating for me. Mistakes in execution of a piece can lead to great discoveries. The realization that 20 people could look at the same thing and render it back 20 unique ways. That imperfections and mistakes are not necessarily calamities, failures, or cause for embarrassment.

Dr. Levi-Montalcini's words are also meaningful to me at this time with James. In the midst of a school year where he is being pressured to fit in,  become a model student, and measured against educational standards of normal, it helps me pull focus and remember that the world is not perfect. It gives me pause to remember that, although at school James is seen (by several on his team) as flawed and not capable of academic achievement, his imperfect brain still interacts and reacts with the world. He is still growing and learning. On his path, not theirs. And that is okay.

With imperfections come discoveries, surprises, and new things that can lead to changes in our world. It makes life a little more breathtaking and wonderful. To me, that is better than perfect.

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