“Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.” – Annette Funicello
“Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” – Michael J. Fox
“Amen to all that.” – Sunflower and Olivia Rosenberg
When it comes to watercolor painting, macaron decorating, and the general business of living one’s ordinary splendid days, we are wise to forget perfection.
This is no reason for despair. Quite the contrary: once we’re freed from having to do it flawlessly, we can live and strive and love each other with gentle freedom. Most of our callings, most of the day, are more like jazz than neurosurgery.
There’s room for imperfection. There’s room for improvisation. And in the midst of the messiest substrata, there is so much wonderful.
Just ask Sunflower.
With a name like that and a face bathed in holy orange glow, Sunflower would seem to have frolicked her life down a flower-lined lane of unremitting loveliness.
(Because, yeah, those exist.)
A Sunflower should sing only of sun-splashed days and undaunted hopes, bright optimism and near-perfect conditions. Right?
Not if she aims to be wonderfully real.
As it turns out, our scrappy Sunflower’s field has not always been sun-kissed. Found on the same property as a few of our other TNR alumane/i, Sunflower showed us her aches and her cracks and her dropped stitches from the day we met her. As she turned her petals to the sun of Tabby’s Place love, we couldn’t miss a glaring imperfection: a big, scary-looking lesion right on her schnoz.
The news was not good: squamous cell carcinoma.
As “imperfect” news goes, this ranks high. “SCC” is one of the direst and deadliest forms of cat cancer — the type, in fact, that took the life of Tabby’s Place’s namesake.
Sunflower’s life was far from perfect.
Making matters more muddled, Sunflower showed up with a lookalike lovable sister, Olivia. The sisters shared more than a shy sweetness and a creamsicle paint job, though: Olivia, too, had a lesion on her nose.
It seems unfair.
It seems unkind.
It seems so far from “perfect” that we have only one choice: make the girls’ life as wonderful as humanly, felinely possible.
And that, dear kittens, is well within our reach.
I don’t know what it feels like to be a formerly-feral cat suddenly plunked down in a sanctuary of insane humans and insane-r felines. I don’t know what it feels like to have a lesion on my honker, or to bear the sufferings you’re asked to carry this very day.
But I know imperfection. My masterpieces have been smeared; my moonshots have been lassoed; my life has been denied perfection…but granted wonder.
So very much wonder.
It’s the challenge, the calling, the beauty of our lives to make wonder where we can’t reach perfection. Fortunately for us, that would be “everywhere.” Our stumbles and our suffering, our lesions and our lacks, are not in vain. They are no barriers to the deeper joy that outlasts all aches.
Sunflower knows. Olivia knows. We’re going to do our dangdest to show them in ever-brighter colors.
Perfect: not you, not me, not cats. Wonderful: ours for the taking. Let’s do this, kittens.
PS: Here’s some bonus wonderful for you, apropos of nothing: 53,000 birds are expected to migrate over our area tonight. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are releasing a new album next month. And approximately 100 cats love you more than you can imagine. So do I. XO.