the brown sweater

so i had a brief but intense path-crossing with a woman who, among other things, told me about a sweater.

a brown sweater.

her FAVORITE sweater.

and it was troubling her that it was so old and there was even a hole in it and it quite possibly had seen its last days on her body.  i remember hearing about the sweater in a phone call first.  and, as always inspired by her to do, i listened to every word, every nuance, every inflection and every emotion that the woman used to describe the sweater.  her attachment to this sweater oozed lovingly from every syllable that she issued.  she adored this sweater, this was for certain.  but it was also clear that this sweater and her were soon to part ways.  it had seen its best days, she said, and the hole?  well, that hole was going to eventually be the catalyst of the soon-to-be sweater separation.  i found myself caught with her, in that seemingly trapped place of sweater-keeping indecision — where emotional and practical vie for triumph, and wondered if perhaps she could hang on to the smallest sweetest joys that the sweater brought – at least in the SPIRIT OF small sweet joy, which of course, is huge.

it was in that phone conversation that i asked her not to toss it/donate it/recycle it just yet.

could i please SEE the sweater before you part with it?

yes, she said into her cell phone receiver.  and i could hear her smiling. but i kept that to myself, smiling.

so one day, about a week or so later, i was visiting her and we were meeting for coffee (she joined me from her office on or near to her lunch hour) and when i saw her walking toward me, i complemented her sweater. and i’ll be damned if she didn’t say: “this is the brown sweater i need to throw away”.  i was slowed in my tracks and just could not believe it.

THAT is the sweater?  but there’s nothing WRONG with it!

in fact,

let me tell you how it accentuated her perfect form.  no wait.  i cannot.  there are no words to describe that. ok then, let me tell you how beautifully the woolly brown weave blended into the long cinnamon-spiced streaks of her side-graying light-brown hair.  well, i can’t do that either.  i am not that word-worthy.  ok, i wonder if i can muster how the dark of the sweater rendered a sunny day in her her sky-blue eyes?  sorry, can’t give THAT justice, either.


ok, let me try this, which is more important anyway:  she looked comfy and easy and natural in it.  she was comfortable in her own skin with her own skin wrapped up in that sweater.  the old brown favorite sweater of unknown fate.  i asked her again, now looking into her eyes:

don’t throw it away to PLEASE keep it?

this time, i SAW her smile and she nodded and said she would.

but still, she showed me the hole that bothered her so.  wow.  not only was the hole NOT VISIBLE, it just didn’t matter.

it’s just a hole.  a blemish that in no way shape or form (puns intended) impede the sweater’s love for her nor her love for the sweater.  at this point, looking into her eyes, walking in an urgent sideways stride facing her graceful forward gait, i insisted she keep it.  i was not asking anymore:

keep the sweater.  keep.  the.  sweater.

The perfect feel and the perfect fit CAN BE imperfect in places.  a hole is not the end of the world; it’s not even a setback.  it’s just a hole.  it’s what you DO WITH the hole that keeps the feel and fit you love alive and new.   the little hole can be filled every second with all the little things, the little joys, the little inspirations that make life feel so big.  in that spirit, you keep love alive.  because the way i see it, you can’t be whole with out hole.

can you?