Perfection, Redefined

I don’t know why, but I was recently reminded of a time in my life when I was in waiting. Post-divorce, and after the end of yet another disastrous relationship, I remember wondering if I would ever have a happy relationship or if I was destined to keep repeating the same drama over and over again. I had decided to take a three-year hiatus from relationships. I joined a book club, learned Vipassana meditation, and started writing my first biography. Waiting, waiting.

This memory from 11 or 12 years ago that seemingly popped out of nowhere made me aware of where I am in my life right now. When I am in the every day swing of things, I have got a million things on my mind: work, household concerns, taking care of the babies, what do I cook for dinner, the laundry. Life is in endless motion and I only stop when I drop off to sleep.

But today, I juxtaposed that memory with my present reality, and I realized that I was no longer waiting. I am married to my soul mate. I have two happy, beautiful children. We live in a cozy home in the mountains. I have work as a writer, singer and actress. Life is good.

Sure, it is far from perfect. We always have dreams that need chasing, home improvements to make, bank accounts that could use extra figures. But I no longer have that feeling of waiting. Now, rather than “waiting for life to begin”, I am praying for the stamina to keep up with my children, as well as the momentum of my desires!

My every day companion that helps maintain my connection with the inner world is Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakenings. In a passage I read a few days ago, he spoke about the human race’s constant need to be better, faster, stronger. We want so desperately to already be that idea we hold in our heads about how we ought to be. We take those classes or workshops or even go for a PhD, pull in that overtime, sometimes break our backs working in order to advance, improve more efficiently, and achieve our goals much sooner than the assigned timetable.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to grow, to be better, to learn. The problem lies in how we flagellate ourselves for being where we are in spite of all our efforts. We suffer under our unhealthy discontent with our natural selves. Yet, Nepo says, look at a flower in the process of blooming. In whatever state of unfolding it is, the flower is perfect, for it cannot grow faster or slower than how Nature intended it to. From bud to blossom, the flower is exactly as it should be at any given point in time.

If we can give the flower that kind of compassion, could we not do the same for ourselves?

These were my thoughts in between bringing the children to school, cooking lunch, getting ready to head to a café to get some work done. I reflected on how I tend to judge my life so harshly—the constant clutter in the house, kicking myself after losing my temper yet again with my rambunctious four-year-old, wondering when I will finally schedule in a trip to the gym or exercise at home, musing over going back to school and taking my master’s…the list can be endless, if we are in that nitpicking state of mind.

But when I think of the rhythm of plants and flowers, I begin to relax.

I continue to reach, as branches do, as roots do, but knowing full well that every moment is a moment of completion. I continue to open, and I wonder why I have held loving at bay. I realize that I am always supported by unseen forces, that limitation is but an idea I need not subscribe to, that I can open my petals to the warmth that is constantly being offered to me, that magic is real.

I am reminded once more that I am not a soul that is on a journey with a final destination. Soul IS the journey. We are all flowers in different states of bloom, always reaching, always perfect. May we hold each other, and ourselves, as we would caress a flower’s petals—with gentleness, with kindness.