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Lions Roar : September 2012
A FEW YEARS AGO A BOY WAS born with abnormally large upper-arm muscles, and by the age of two he could lift weights that would be a stretch for a ten-year old. Curious scientists dis- covered he has a gene that most people don’t. Perhaps within a few short years that gene will be transferable to other newborns and a gym membership will begin to seem quaint. After all, if you can get the results without all the sweat, then why not pay up and have yourself biochemically and genetically tuned? Welcome to the world of the enhanced human being. Not that our urge to become an improved model is anything new. Young Greeks were working out two and a half thousand years ago, and in the seventeenth century French women appar- ently swallowed sand and ashes to deliberately ruin their stom- achs so as to get paler complexions. Humans have always felt less than perfect in one way or another, and we probably always will. Even when we have developed the best body we could ever hope for; even when, a few years from now, we can buy a memory chip at Radio Shack, or have surgery for a math gene or some Perfectly Imperfect In a world of Botox, little blue pills, and “living your best life,” we could all use more wabi sabi in our lives. Because imperfection, says ROGER HOUSDEN, is what makes us human. other enhancement, the feeling that we are incomplete will not go away. It won’t go away because it comes with the package of being human. Something always seems to be missing, even if we can’t put our finger on it. We may succeed in ironing out one wrinkle, but then another pops up in its place. So we go into therapy or take pills. We take classes to improve our sex lives; we read books on how to follow our bliss; or we go for the ultimate perfec- tion, enlightenment, as if it were something to get that we don’t already have. The sense that life is not as good as it could be— that we are not as good as we could be—seems built into our genetic code. Over a lifetime, the obvious becomes inescapable: we will never achieve any ideal of perfection—either physical, men- tal, or spiritual—other than the realization of the perfection of who we already are, blemishes and all. And what is true for us is true for anyone, however glowing their life may seem to our eyes. We are, all of us, no more and no less than wonderfully PHOTOBYCARLSMITH/FLICKR.COM SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2012 23