I recently visited the Jim Henson Exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. I highly recommend it if you’re in or near NYC. I was so touched by what I saw that I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a Muppet bonanza for my next few blog posts. (Just a warning in case you think this subject is too “babyish” for you; I assure you that Jim Henson is a modern-day sage, to say the very least.)
My love for the Muppets and Jim Henson’s holism has only grown over time. During the pandemic, I was seeking lighter viewing to lift my spirits, and I started revisiting childhood favorites like Fraggle Rock. My husband had never seen Fraggle Rock and I only vaguely remembered it. I thought we would watch a few episodes for some light-hearted fun. We did not intend to watch all four seasons plus the reboot (which is also great) but that’s exactly what we ended up doing.
Fraggle Rock is not only light-hearted, joyful and delightful, full of fun songs and innumerable dance numbers, it’s also embedded with themes of deep ecology and interconnection. According to one puppeteer who worked with Henson in the 1980s, when first floating the idea of Fraggle Rock Jim Henson reportedly said, “I want to make a show that will change the world and stop war.” That’s a whole other topic in and of itself, maybe something for the future.
I was so excited to see the puppets from Fraggle Rock and other iconic Jim Henson productions in person. What struck me was the detail and the aliveness of them, even behind glass. The textures were unbelievable and most of the puppets were made with seven or eight materials to give them a lived-in look. The whites had a bit of brown or gray interspersed that you would never notice unless you were close to the puppet, but I’m guessing that it’s these textures and colors and materials woven together that allow the puppets to feel so alive.
Likewise, there was a sweetness to the imperfections. Miss Piggy’s snout and jawline were a bit gray, either from aging or use or intentionally, who knows? But it was exactly those imperfections that made her so sweet, so perfect, and so lively.
Humans tend to be harsh on themselves about their own irregularities, quirks, or asymmetries, but as we enter the season of late summer, the time of the Earth element, I would like to argue that your own imperfections can lead you into a deep and reverent wisdom.
What’s irregular about you isn’t necessarily a problem, but sometimes our irregularities, our quirks, can lead us to evaluate what we need to integrate and assimilate and how we want to live.
The season of late summer, the Earth time, is all about the center. As we bring in the harvest, we have a chance to digest and to integrate those parts of ourselves that feel a bit awkward, or that even seem dingy or gray. Once we’ve had the opportunity to live into and digest our own unique expressions of life, we can live within them without worry or fear.
This is the gift of late summer. Digestion, assimilation, and deep appreciation for the gifts of life that are offered to us daily.
May you find, and live within, your perfect imperfections this late summer.