"Out, damned spot! Out, I say!"

So, this is the point I've reached in my life.

Getting ready to go out to eat a few nights ago, I put on a fresh shirt and as I buttoned it I noticed an ink stain in the corner of the pocket. It was smaller than the size of a dime - but there it was. And this was a shirt fresh from the cleaners so I knew this stain had staying power and while it might eventually fade some, its shadow would be with me for a while.

I unbuttoned the shirt and took it off and as I did I became aware of how much of that shirt was in perfect shape. There was just that little stain...

After less than a minute's deliberation, I decided that most of the shirt was still worth wearing and although I wished the ink blot could have been in the shirt's armpit, I put it back on. And I went out to eat. And I had a nice meal. And I came home again without ever having given a second thought to that stain.

There was a time when I would have thrown that shirt away on the spot, without a second thought... So, this is the point I have reached in my life: I can wear a shirt with a stained pocket and not worry about it. It's a good thing to have arrived in this place.

In searching for the graphic for this post, I came across a hint from a guy who, when he has a similar stain, just puts a pen in the pocket and waits for folks not to advise him of the stain but to warn him about the problem of a leaky pen. It seems in men's fashion, leaky pens are more acceptable than stained shirt pockets. A leaky pen is a forgivable offense.

But I'm not going to put a pen in the pocket next time I wear that shirt. I might even wear it with the black pants I had on when I slipped in church and slid on my knee across the hardwood floor, "burning" a quarter size sheen into the material. I've been wearing those pants for over a year so I guess advancing to the stained pocket level was inevitable.

Why is it that we think of a small stain on an otherwise fine piece of clothing as a reason not to wear that garment anymore - even as a reason to discard it? Why are we so impatient with such a small imperfection in an otherwise fine shirt or pair of pants, a dress or blouse, a skirt or tie?

Then again, we're sometimes like that with each other, aren't we? The smallest imperfections in others may blind us to the worth of the whole person, our eye constantly drawn to the stain, the fault, the quirk - as if that's all there was to be known.

Now that I'm wearing this shirt and these pants, perhaps I'll find myself less focused on the imperfections of others. I hope so. Perhaps these old clothes will make more of a man of me. Then, in my stained shirt and floor-burned pants, perhaps I'll really be dressed for success.

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