Sunday, October 14, 2012

perfectly imperfect

A rose looks many different ways to many different people. 

Before the summer started, I imagined a season of love. I would be traveling with a dear friend who I loved deeply. We were going to get a chance to be together. And I thought that it was going to be perfect.

If you've ever traveled with a friend or partner, you'll know how naive I was being. Traveling with anyone for three and a half months is challenging at the best of times, more so when you are testing out the chemistry of two, each with their own needs, quirks, anxieties, back stories.

In many ways, this time has far exceeded my expectations. It has been incredibly special--in ways that I couldn't have even imagined. It has been a time full of seeing new things, healing, personal discovery, meeting really special people, teaching and learning in so many different levels and experiences. And I will be forever grateful to this friend of mine.

But it also hasn't been what I thought it would be. Needless to say: it hasn't been perfect.

In the Upanishads, however, it says that everything is  perfect.

Sometimes, I totally get this. I don't just get it, I share it with the enthusiasm of Little Miss Sunshine.

Yet, other times, when I take a good look around, especially at my own imperfect life, I can't help but ask, how can this be? Is everything really perfect?

Obviously, no. No, because reality isn't always pretty. Life is not easy.  It can be hard to live, earn a living, do what you like, embrace the person you love, or be who you are supposed to be.

Also, yes (says the unsinkable optimist in me)! Yes, because encoded in life's imperfections are the clues to being happy. They are lessons, albeit hard ones at times, that help us grow, be who we need to be. But being able to see this largely depends on your willingness to see.

This has me thinking about my own concept of perfection.

Amidst the tension of travel, my friend pointed out how it annoyed him that I wanted things to always be nice and that my ideas of perfection was unrealistic, that my sunny optimism even in the face of great difficulty was inauthentic.

Hrm... This has given me some food for thought.

It's true, I can dip towards near-cheerleading enthusiasm sans pompoms and cartwheels and my experience of "happy"have their origins in Hollywood musicals rather than my own woebegone childhood. When I was a kid, I thought truly happy people were supposed to break out in song spontaneously and the fact that this did not happen in my own life was only further proof of how sad and pathetic my life actually was.

I admit, this insane lingering desire for a life in cheerful technicolor needs to be addressed properly. And fast!
But I'm also no fool. Like everyone, I know suffering. I know life is tough and it is wrought with challenges. I obviously need to learn how some things genuinely need encouragement and some things don't. I don't mean to trivialize other people's pain or issues by being overly positive. And perhaps I lack a touch of realism, at times.

It's not that I'm out of touch, but that's kind of part of who I am. I believe in miracles. I believe thoughts are magic, that they are contagious, that they can change the world. Maybe my enthusiasm may seem unreal to some but it's totally wholehearted. It has helped me shift my own life and has helped me shift some of my relationships.

It is through that same loving lens that I can see how the world is perfectly imperfect, that I can accept with grace and gratitude that I too am that.

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