Monday, August 24, 2009

Making Peace With The Imperfect

There's a wonderful website that I visit on a regular basis called Zen Moments. It is a site with stories that help me keep my own life in perspective. The word "Buddha", as many of you know, means "Awakened One". I am a long way from being a fully "awakened" one. I have my moments of clarity but, sadly, I have too many moments where I am asleep. At best I am probably a person sitting on the side of his bed rubbing his eyes. I am trying to be awake but sometimes it seems that all my effort is focused on simply rubbing the sleep from my eyes. Zen moments, the website and the experiences, help me. Yesterday's thought on the "Zen Moments" website was titled "Making Peace with the Imperfect". Reading it I was reawakened to something I already know. Life will never be perfect. 80% is about the best you are ever going to get. This idea is called the 80/20 law. If you take anything in your life, i.e., relationships, work, or life in general, if 80% is good you should jump up and down with joy! Now this law is not just a mathematical formula to justify all that's not right or perfect in your life. It also applies to ourselves. Everybody and everything seems to want a minimum of 100% of everything we have to give. Employers often say they need 110% from everyone. Guess what? It's not going to happen. On our best days as individuals we probably can give only 80%. Like the people and the world around us, we are not perfect and our efforts will never be perfect either. We are all flawed and we are all broken. All the people and all the things around us are also imperfect, flawed, and broken. This does not mean that everyone and everything in life are failures. We're just human and all things are in flux. If Buddha is only right about one thing, I think it is that all things are impermanent. To quote from Zen Moments, "What comes together, separates. Whatever arises, must decay and pass away. It's a natural law. All things that arise and cease are inherently unsatisfactory". None of this is meant to convey doom and gloom. It simply means we must make our peace with the imperfections of people, including ourselves, and everything else in life. This is especially true, and difficult, for people like myself who are perfectionists, idealists, and romantics. Although I can't stop being who I am, I can learn to let go of my unrealistic expectations of people and life. Going forward I am going to make a renewed effort to appreciate the 80% of my life that is very good instead of obsessing on the 20% that seems to be missing or is less than perfect.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Michael, a beautiful post, and one with which I very much identify. We cannot know the perfect without imperfection, because otherwise perfection loses relevance, just as the beauty of love cannot be realized until one has truly felt the intense pain of hate. Christ's Love could not blossom without the hatred embodied in the Cross. The whips were not enough, the crown of thorns was not enough. The nails and the spear were not enough. Death was not enough. Only through the Resurrection and the Ascenscion did the perfect Love of God fully blossom in the Son of Man.

The beauty of a painting lies in what many see as imperfections--the line slightly out of place, the image somewhat distorted. But without these things the painting loses its impact--its message. It becomes a pretty picture, and not art.

We are called to be imperfect, and whence we see our imperfection, which can only come through the Grace of Humility, are we finally able to begin to perceive even the slightest twinkling of the Holy Spirit within us. What we perceive as perfection is measured by the mind of man. Within our imperfection perhaps lies the road through the dark night.

So I delight in my imperfections, because they drive me to my knees toward God.