Perfection, context, and the hallway mirror

We had a mirror installed in the hallway. We’d had it cut not square, because the wall it’s next to isn’t straight. I wasn’t home when the installers put it in, but when I came back they’d made a horrible mistake:

They had installed it perfectly straight.

It was as level and perfectly perpendicular with the planet earth as a thing can be. The problem is that our home is 40 years old, and after decades of settling, nothing in the house is perfectly plumb anymore. It’s nothing you’d notice without looking for it, or unless something new was put in place that was perfectly aligned like things in a new building should be.

The mirror had been installed upside-down, which only exaggerated how misaligned our door frames and floor are, so I had to get them to come back, take it off the wall, and install it the right way up.

This time, I made sure to be home for the install, and eyeballed it until it looked perfect. The installers showed me with their laser level just how off out-of-true the mirror and walls are; how imperfect they are when measured against the absolute standard.

But in the context of our apartment, the mirror is now perfectly aligned.

Without the context to define what the perfect solution should look like, blindly following the absolute standards made something ugly. But considering the context and use and viewpoints of the users made the solution fit.

Comments are closed here.