I have a birth mark. As the name suggests, it’s been there since birth. My birth mark isn’t very big and I don’t notice it so much anymore. But the younger me noticed it, and noticed it a lot. As did, it felt like, every other kid around me.
My mark is about the size of a quarter. It is shaped kind of like a heart, but with a third hump, so it starts to look more like a paw. It is light brown, but then it has a bunch of freckles in it that are darker brown than the actual “paw” part. So I might call it a “freckly” looking paw the size of a quarter. When it gets tan, it gets darker – the whole thing.
My birth mark has been accused of being everything from a bruise to a smudge to a tattoo. I have explained many times over the course of my life that this mark is none of that –“It’s been there since birth,” I say. “It’s my birth mark.”
Over time, as I graduated from my peers of youth and more into the world of adults – who don’t notice much that doesn’t affect them – I kind of forgot I had the birth mark. But this morning as I was getting dressed, and my daughter was taking pictures of me naked with my Iphone, she noticed it. (Don’t worry; I’m not going to use any of those pictures as my next Facebook profile picture. In fact, they have already been sent to the phone-picture graveyard where they rightly belong).
As Jesse noticed my birth mark, she said, “I like your decoration on your leg.”
My decoration! In all my years of living and feeling self-conscious, it never occurred to me that it is my decoration.
I replied to her, “That’s my birth mark, it’s decoration from God.”
I thought of the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, finding the perfection in imperfection.
Suddenly, because of my daughter’s words, I am able to look at my whole self in a different light. If only I had heard her concept when my rather large lips were too big for my little face! It seems they were one size since birth and my head grew around them.
Obviously, my lips have been an asset to my adult self, but my poor child self, who wasn’t a clone of the least awkward looking girl in school, had a bit of a hard time. My features were exaggerated looking at that point, like one of those caricature drawings artists do on many city streets. In some ways my features still look cartoonish, but what is considered attractive in adulthood doesn’t always jive with the world of kids. Trust me, I know from experience.
Like the birth mark on my leg, I can now see my lips as my decoration. Knowing this makes me appreciate every feature, every mark, and every wabi-sabi part of myself. I suddenly feel grateful and I don’t want to pick on myself so much. I want to graduate from hearing my peers’ voices in my head, the one that says, this is too big or that is ugly, to a more happy existence of gratitude.
My daughter’s words were simple, but very effective.
Today, I will appreciate the wabi-sabi of my body. I see myself in the light of my creator. The one that made me perfect, just the way I am.