Sunday, August 14, 2011
Practice Not Perfect
As much as I enjoy the world around me being neat and orderly, lately I've been witnessing how little control I actually have, and how exhausting it is to try to "keep it all together" when what I may really need is to be shaken apart. Each unsettling quake of my rigid foundation cracks me open a little wider, exposing rotting wooden beams ready to be replaced. That is to say, the hardest times help to clarify what is and is not serving me well.
This perfection game has reached its peak of usefulness in my life. I don't have anyone to impress but myself, and as I am my own harshest critic, that's plenty to contend with. There's something to be said for a sharp eye for detail, but when it starts to border on obsessive compulsive and unrealistically critical, it's time to ease up. And like so many reconciliations, this begins with forgiveness. It's time to give up the game and forgive myself for not being perfect. Life is a practice, not perfect. We are continually being challenged and shaken up, and if we stop trying to manage the mysteries of life, we may actually grow through this de/reconstruction process.
We are being created all the time by the events in our lives and our responses to them, and there is no such thing as an imperfect response. There are hurtful or unconscious or counter productive responses, but as far as I'm concerned, every decision is the perfect decision. Think back to what initially seemed like a totally knuckle head choice that ended beautifully. Conversely, consider how doing the "perfect" thing has ended in disaster. Life is too far outside of our control to always accurately discern how our actions will ripple out. But trust that they will ripple and that the important thing is to act with as much consciousness as possible, letting go of the outcome. That's the big, liberating truth of non-attachment: you can attempt as much perfection as you want now, but the future doesn't exist yet, so you can't possibly hope to mold it in the present. We can set intentions, but you ultimately have to let go of future building and settle for resting quietly in the imperfect present.
While I do indulge in some wild, infuriatingly cheery optimism, I am also sensible enough to see that there will never be a truly "perfect" moment. People are creative enough to find fault with even the most ideal of circumstances (i.e. women with "perfect" bodies who still complain about their *insert body part*). So how can we ever be happy? We have to forgive ourselves, each other and the world for not meeting our every expectation...especially those expectations that we aren't even able to articulate yet. And in some instances, perhaps it's appropriate to loosen or totally eliminate our expectations altogether, gracefully allowing our reality to be without manipulation. How better to articulate this than with the Serenity Prayer?:
"Grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference."
It is you who decides what is perfect and imperfect. Never forget your ability to choose to see perfection everywhere...especially within your beautiful self.