What Makes Someone Perfect?

November 9th, 2010

I do a lot of writing at tea houses. It’s a great chance to people watch. For someone like me, who is fascinated with the interplay between people in various states of relationship, it’s a wonderful chance to take note of the way a guy acts when trying to woo a girl, or the shameless flirtation a girl employs to show a guy she’s interested.

Today, I watched as a young guy was chatting up a girl next to me. She was trying to inch her way out the door, and he was going on and on about the rain. She was polite, but not interested, and he was TOO interested. When she finally tumbled out the door, his friend indicated that his level of interest was just a bit too much. “Just a tad,” he said, illustrating the degree with his index finger and thumb.

I could only laugh. All too often I’ve been on either side of that scenario. Both sides are equally awkward. With age, I’ve come to learn that awkwardness and difficulty make for strange bedfellows. It should just be. It shouldn’t be easy or happy or organic or fun. It should just BE.

I’m not implying I know what it is that makes people perfect for each other. Is it really chemistry? Shared interests? Divine intervention? Or is it something far less identifiable? Something in the air. Something that happens only if we’re watching, like when we’re crossing the street -  he from east to west, and you, from west to east.

And then, in that moment, in the middle of a crowded street, you just know. And maybe it’s not even close to the fairytale you imagined. He’s not all that handsome, and you don’t get chills up and down your spine. And you’re wearing a craggy old sweatsuit and haven’t washed your hair in three days. But there it is.

That’s the way Haruki Murakami paints it in his story, “On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning.” I’ve read it over and over throughout the years, and it strikes me as particularly curious. It’s certainly a very straightforward love story. In fact, it doesn’t even really appear to be a story about love. It’s a story about what is. What might be. What we see. What we miss.

What makes someone perfect? I don’t think it’s the shape of their nose, or the color of their jacket. I don’t think it has anything to do with how many gifts they give you or how many compliments they toss out during dinner. I think it’s something as invisible and indirect as what Murakami implies in this story. I think it’s about silence. And possibility. And timing. And openness. And lack of fear. And faith.

Yes, I think it’s about faith. Faith is perfect. Nothing else need be. Not even love. Love certainly isn’t perfect. But faith in love – that’s 100% perfect.

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