She sat silent in the corner. A black scarf covered the top of her head. Only a few words were exchanged. Her conversation came in the form of intricate designs on my sister’s hand. She traced the design on my sister’s skin with a henna cone and her free hand. There wasn’t a guidebook of henna templates or drawings that she copied. Instead, the fingers and her imagination created the detailed paving of lines on my sister’s palm.
I let this image linger in my mind, sensing a wave of hope inside of me. Much like the henna artist, we are all taking steps, making decisions, and yes, hoping that the actions we take now we lead to what we want our life to reflect. I thought about the designer and how she took careful steps not to smudge the henna on my sister’s hand. At certain points, a white tissue could wipe out the stray mark. At other times, it was too late to correct the imperfection because the henna had already taken color. Isn’t that what we do with our own lives? We try to remedy what we can. Sometimes it is too late. The blemish is permanent. And we readjust, trying to make the imperfection a part of our life.
We don’t often know, via individual decisions, how the arc of our life may turn out. Much like the composition of the henna on the hand. The details of the design didn’t take shape immediately. We couldn’t appreciate the intricacy until it was all completed. Ultimately, with the smudges and the sometimes too thick lines of henna, the result was a beautiful pattern of shapes, curls and yes, hope.
It reaffirmed something that I may have forgotten. Though underneath we may sometimes lose our footing and while the struggle sometimes feels constant, there is always that undercurrent of hope. It may be silent, but it is there, shaping our personal design.
I LOVE this analogy, how beautiful. I’ve always thought henna design are so beautiful…and yes hopeful like our lives.
Henna designs can be intricate or simple. Each potential design has the potential to be flawed, but ultimately, even with the blemishes it looks beautiful when all is completed.
Beautiful, Rudri. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for stopping by Ayala. Really appreciate your presence in this space.
So lovely—this also brought to mind DuChamp’s huge glass piece of art that cracked when being installed to the museum. The workers were mortified but when DuChamp saw it he was delighted, claiming that now the work was complete.
I was just at the Philly Art Museum and for the first time saw a photo of DuChamp standing in front of his cracked artwork, and the explanation that it hadn’t originally been part of the work. I have seen this work many years, and always assumed the crack was intentional!
Bruce: I love that you talk about DuChamp and his reaction to his work. And how brilliant that he had the awareness to declare that with this “imperfection” the work was complete? Always a pleasure to hear your voice in this space. Thank you.
A beautiful work of art. Thank you for this.
Thanks Crystal. Glad you liked it.
What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing your eloquence. Words would appear to be your henna. Found you on SITS!
Thanks Sue for stopping by. I appreciate the compliment. Glad you found some resonance in my words.
What gorgeous words, Rudri. And a wonderful message for all of us. Yes, sometimes we do indeed lose our footing, and the undercurrents of hope remain, even if inaccessible until they’re ready to reveal themselves.
Thanks Wolf. In the last few months, what you describe is what I am desperately trying to cling on to. Knowing that even when the terrain feels unfamiliar and despite that my feet continue to slip, I will persevere when the whole picture is revealed.
This is beautiful, both the design and the metaphor, and the unfolding of our lives.
Margaret, thanks so much for your kind words. And I appreciate you taking the time to think about the metaphor. So nice to “meet” you.
The imperfections as part of the grand design — a liberating concept.
“We try to remedy what we can. Sometimes it is too late.”
There are some things ithat you just can’t take back. It’s Rule No. 1 in life.
wow. This is absolutely beautiful. (the words AND the photograph)
Thanks Michelle. Ironically, the photo was taken with an i-phone because my sister’s camera was not working. I appreciate your gracious words.
This is a gorgeous philosophy, Rudri. I love the idea of our lives — mistakes and successes both — are creating an intricate, beautiful imprint.