A human life can be difficult to organize into neat patterns.
However, one aspect of my life I find quite easy to cleanly delineate. I see a reliable, undeniable pattern in which I experience a profound level of peace, ease, and self-gentleness for a time before an experience comes along that tips me off the cliff into deep darkness. This does not correlate neatly with my monthly cycle. Besides the inevitability of the fall, there is little rhyme or reason to timing or what kind of experience will cause the shift. I am not a moderate person in this way.
I felt myself coming out of a deep darkness yesterday evening. Besides patiently waiting it out, there is little I can do in terms of self-care to crawl up the cliff and back to the meadow. It is like every deep darkness comes to me so I can learn something about human beings, about myself, about wise living. This time, my lesson was regarding imperfection.
My desire to be perfect is nearly all-encompassing. I desire even to be perfect in my imperfections, as if I had intentionally planned out all the yucky stuff in my life and nothing about me is an accident (is anything an accident?).
If you know me personally, you probably know that I meditate regularly and take my practice very seriously. It is my life’s largest treasure. This effort brings me enormous benefit, but it can also hinder me in some ways, at least until I realize that I’m self-hindering and learn from that experience as well. Because the practice is fairly demanding, I find myself trying to attain perfection in my practice. Never missing a sitting, never opening my eyes or moving while sitting, tailoring my daily schedule to sitting, dedicated sobriety, a strong desire to “do it all myself,” etc. I was sitting last night with a new friend and this hideous monster from the deep darkness I had been calmly staring in the face for five days softened and melted into a voice reminding me that I can be imperfect. I can make goals that I immediately give up on. I can make the same unhelpful decisions on the daily until I breathe my last. I can engage in laziness against my better judgment. I can be a mediocre friend, coworker, gardener, and bicyclist. I can let myself be afraid and not expect that to ever turn into bravery. Life still proceeds without my permission. I am still lovable.
Perhaps that is actually my greatest desire, to be lovable. It’s okay to forget that I am lovable, it’s okay for you to forget, because you will remember. Even if it’s only the sudden sun on your face after a day of rain, you will be reminded that you are loved. Enjoy the light, observe the dark. Every moment is a precious jewel of discovery.
Photo courtesy of scottishnativewoods.blogspot.com.