An eyesore jumble,
a rat’s nest of disorder.
Help! Fix this mess.
When all’s in place,
it’s time for that single word.
Perfect! Yes, that’s it.
A Perfect Mess
Imagine a backpack so stuffed and disorganized that you can’t find anything in it. There are things at the bottom that are sharp, things that are sticky, and others that are totally mysterious.
It’s time to organize. It sounds crazy but the easiest way to do that is to first make a bigger mess by dumping out everything. Look at what’s there and begin to see what fits where. Out of the big mess, your mind begins working.
• Load books, notebooks, and folders against the back of your pack. It’s easier to carry when the flat and heavy things are closest to your back.
• Put all loose items such as pencils, pens, scissors, markers, erasers, and crayons in individual cases or in the pockets of the backpack.
• Add a folder for all take-home papers and notes for parents. Then come up with a place such as a basket or desk space at home to put these papers each day so that a parent can find and read them.
• Don’t forget personal care items such as hand sanitizer and tissues.
• A couple of plastic zipper bags are handy for unexpected sticky, slimy things, like the half sandwich you are saving for later or treasures you’ve collected.
• Try to include small toys or stickers that you can give to friends as a thank you or an encouragement.
• Make your backpack say something about who you are. Add key chains, decorate with fabric markers, iron on patches, or attach small items with safety pins.
Van Gogh’s Subjects
The artist Vincent Van Gogh struggled to find his perfect place in life. He thought he’d be a pastor like his father, but he was not successful in school. After several failures he escaped to the countryside, where he put his energy into serving the poor and drawing scenes of coal miners and field workers. He was not successful in selling his work during his lifetime. His ability was not recognized. But today, more than 100 years later, his paintings of potato growers, sowers in the field, and sunflowers are famous and get reprinted and sold over and over. His ability to express the feelings of the poor through art is considered the ideal and perfect.
It’s very satisfying when something comes together just right. But that doesn’t always happen immediately or even on purpose. These great inventions came about by accident:
Chocolate Chip Cookies
In 1930 an innkeeper tried to substitute baker’s chocolate with bits of semi-sweet chocolate. She hoped the chocolate pieces would melt into the cookie dough during baking and create a chocolate cookie. But the chips remained in place. By accident she invented the chocolate chip cookie, which is now North America’s most-requested cookie. Do you like them with your school lunch or for an after-school treat? Or maybe you’ve invented a perfect cookie of your own.
The Frisbie Bakery in Connecticut baked pies in tins stamped with their logo, “Frisbie’s Pies.” The pies were popular with Yale University students, and so were the tins. After eating a pie, the students would toss the tins to each other. While tossing the tins, they’d often call out, “Frisbie!”
The activity became so popular that in the mid-1950s Wham-O Manufacturing began producing a plastic version and called it a Frisbee. (Notice the slight change in spelling.)
The Scott Paper Company in the early 1900s sold toilet paper. One time the paper arrived heavy and wrinkled. Mr. Scott knew that this paper wouldn’t work for his popular-selling toilet paper, so he made tear lines across the larger sheets and sold them as Sani Towels. Places of business, hotels, and schools found the paper sheets handy. By 1931, Mr. Scott put them in stores for home use. Each time you grab for a paper towel, remember that this useful sheet came about by accident.
The two strips of nylon we often see on clothes and shoes today—one with thousands of small hooks and the other with small loops—are known by the name VELCRO. George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, designed this hook-and-loop fastener. But his inspiration came accidentally. One day in the early 1940s, after returning from a walk in the Alps with his dog, he noticed cockleburs stuck to his jacket and his dog. He studied these burs under the microscope and decided to invent a fastener based on them. After eight years of work, he did it. Perfection!
To learn more about these accidental inventions and 36 more, check out the book Mistakes That Worked: 40 Familiar Inventions and How They Came to Be by Charlotte Flotz Jones.
The Imperfect Perfect
Is it possible that something could be too perfect, so perfect that it is imperfect? Think of fake plants, imitation wood, or mass-produced, fake anything. Paint a picture with words to show how something too perfect might be imperfect. Here’s an example:
The Plastic Cup
Use it once not twice
toss it out
earth will pay the price.
The Perfect Imperfect
The opposite can happen when you see beauty in something that is old or imperfect. Create another word picture. Look for a worthy quality in something that might be considered unworthy such as wrinkles, scars, a bent tree trunk, a lived-in room, or a person who has been forgiven and loved by God. Here’s an example:
The Old Glass Dish with a Wee Chip
A thick round bottom,
a fat stem.
Pour in hot puddin’.
While I spoon it up
sings of puddin’ pasts.
The Touch of Creation
Michelangelo is another highly thought of artist. His painting of God’s hand reaching out to human beings in creation is famous. Many admirers look at his work and say it is perfect. But here is what Michelangelo said: “The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.” Think about it. What was Michelangelo saying?