The carpet found me ten years ago. It materialized one rainy afternoon with a boyfriend who, soon after meeting me, decided to move back to the States. He proceeded to offload most of his possessions into my brand new flat in Soho, Hong Kong - and this delightful item was amid the second elevator-load.
We decided it must have been some kind of training carpet.
But then, the other day I was on Skype and talking to my aunt, Anna O'Higgins, a wonderfully-inspired artist who lives in an ancient house on the island of Anglesey in North Wales and makes art from silk and glass.
Her eyes were lingering on the screen, staring somewhere beyond me until she cried out, 'Oooh, love the rug!' I commenced to explain the wierd qualities of this carpet, and she corrected me. 'No, the mistakes are meant to be there,' she assured me. 'Islamic art cannot be perfect, only Allah is perfect. So artists will add the mistakes.' She adds with a laugh, 'It's a philosophy I've been using myself lately.'
At this point in the conversation, some kind of light bulb illuminates my mind. Or perhaps a better explanation would be to say that a gate swings open and an exotic wild animal (maybe some kind of fantastical peacock) comes hurtling out and runs down the hillside of my consciousness. Something quite literally shifts in me and releases its energy.
The following day, I sit down with all my notebooks and start to really work on my book of stories, for the first time in months. I feel released, unshackled. You see, I've been keeping this wild animal, my muse, in a small cage of late. I've been visiting her with cups of tea every few days and informing her that she needs to be perfect. But with every visit, I have become increasingly exasperated to see her standing limply in the corner, unwilling to move.
Something about that line, about an artist purposefully injecting a mistake into her art... it clicked that gate wide open and set something free. What a relief, to not need to be perfect. It made me think of Leonard Cohen's 'Anthem':
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in...
Perhaps it's that glint of imperfection that is actually the route in.