There is a sculpture not far from my house that is a representation of one of our town’s early residents. It sits on a pedestal at the corner of a busy intersection, and visitors and locals often asked two questions about the piece: “Who is that supposed to be?” and “Why is his head so big?”
The answer to the first question is Antoine Janis, the first white settler in our county. The answer to the second was “artist error.” Recently, the artist decided to correct her mistake, and received permission to remove the statue and reduce his head size by 15%.
The “new and improved” Antoine Janis is now standing once again on that same street corner, and the artist is pleased with her adjustment. You would think I would be too, but I’m not. I miss his big head.
It’s true that Antoine looked a little “funny” with his oversized head, but I came to love him that way. His big head made him unique. It gave him character. It made him stand out. And it certainly got him noticed. His confident stance sort of made up for his “deformity.” It was like he was saying, “Yeah, I’m odd, but that’s me. Take me or leave me.”
Now Antoine looks normal, and no one asks about him anymore. I used to talk to him when I drove by:
“Hey, Antoine, what’s with the giant noggin?”
“Hey, buddy, how do you hold that thing up?”
“Lookin’ good, Antoine. The shadows today have slimmed up that head of yours.”
Now, I’ve got nothing to say. He’s just plain, old Antoine.
So maybe better is not always best. Maybe sometimes our screw-ups are more endearing than our “perfect” pieces. Though it’s tempting to correct our mistakes, maybe sometimes we should let them stand.
Think of all the great songs that came about because a wrong note was played or all the books we love that really aren’t that well written. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I thought Antoine was once quite handsome, big head and all.
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