Perfect Imperfection

Stinson Beach is about 20 minutes from our house. One of our favorite weekend activities is to head out there early with the kids, grab some coffee and good pastries and then take a long walk on the beach before the crowds arrive. One of the awesome things about this beach is that it has lots of sand dollars. The kids and I like to pick up the sand dollars as we walk but we have this rule that we can only keep the sand dollar if it is perfect—no chips, no holes.

To be honest, I made up this rule to limit the number of smelly sand dollars that made it into the car and back to our house. These beach treasures are beautiful for about half a day but they start to stink really badly, really fast. And who wants to throw a sand dollar in the trash?

Recently I was talking a walk on the beach picking up perfect sand dollars and it suddenly dawned on me that my rule is really messed up! Why do all the sand dollars have to be perfect? They’ve probably undergone quite a rough and tumble journey before washing up on shore and it’s a lot to expect them to arrive completely intact.

I’m always telling my kids they don’t need to be perfect. Nobody, nothing is perfect. I’m sure not. In fact, I tell them, that where there is perfection there is no room to learn or grow.

That day on the beach, I was looking at those imperfect sand dollars just lying there and thinking about travel, too. Travel is not perfect. Sometimes, when my clients travel, things happen that weren’t expected and aren’t welcome. I feel really bad when this occurs. After all, I want your trip to be perfect. Nobody wants their time and money spent in a way that isn’t just as they hoped it would be.  Hardly any vacation is totally perfect. But that doesn’t mean they can’t also be magical, memorable and fun. 

I’m not saying that I’ll stop trying to make your trip perfect. But I have a new understanding about what makes a trip wonderful, and it’s not perfection. We learn a lot when we are challenged, uncomfortable, surprised and even disappointed. There is beauty in imperfection and potential for growth and newfound wisdom.

By the end of my walk the other day, I held a handful of sand dollars, perfect and imperfect. I  admired them all equally before returning them to the sand. Just like travel memories, together they all make up the whole, beautiful story. 

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