There was a time in my life when it pained me to realize that I wasn’t perfect.
As a naive 20-year-old woman, somehow I thought that this is what I was supposed to be—perfect.
It wasn’t that I thought I was supposed to become perfect sometime in the future—it was that I was somehow innately supposed to be perfect, just as I was, and because it was becoming glaringly obvious to me that I wasn’t perfect, I was sure my entire life was going to be a problem.
More specifically, I was afraid that that everyone around me was going to know that I wasn’t perfect and think I was a problem.
This is why it was a shock when it was explained to me that no one is perfect.
I had to really think about this—in so many ways other people around me seemed to have it together more then me.
I mean, I could see when they were struggling, but everyone else seemed better at everything then me—better at being attractive, interesting, creative.
They even seemed better at simple tasks.
I think I really believed it was just me who wasn’t perfect.
Fast-forward twenty years and what I understand now is that the whole point of life isn’t about being perfect. The point is really about the opposite of perfect—the point is to make a mess. Our natural human state is actually really chaotic and scattered, and this is normal. This is the opportunity.
It bothers me when people use the word “mindfulness” interchangeably with “perfect”—for instance, when we make a “mistake” and it is then suggested to us that we weren’t being mindful.
Mindfulness is about not getting everything right. Mindfulness isn’t a “one-stop, fix everything, make-us-perfect-and-never-feel-pain-or-suffering-again” type of experience.
Mindfulness is the mess—or more precisely, mindfulness is noticing the mess without labelling it a mess.
Mindfulness is not shoving the mess of our human existence down into the deep depths of our systems where we can’t see anything. Mindfulness is about letting it all rise to the surface without trying to change anything, or compartmentalize our experiences into right or wrong, good or bad, perfect or imperfect.
It is letting is all be, exactly as it is.
This is an act of courage.
Our own messiness is painful to see, which is why we like to try to cover it up with the story of “perfect.”
But our mess is where the growth is. It is where the historic karma of our being is stored. It is where we can heal the ugliness through looking at it with peaceful, accepting eyes, and see it as in fact not ugly at all, but tender and real and in need and some attention.
Letting go of the idea that anything ever is going to be perfect it letting go of the illusion of security.
In some ways this is a big loss, the hope that “one day” things will all feel better, and easier.
That “one day,” everything could be just perfect.
When we let go of this fantasy of our future life, and future self in our future life, what we gain is the present.
Mindfulness allows us to soak in the texture of the present sensual moment. The temperature and taste, the sights and sounds of what is happening now.
We can have physical pain, emotional turmoil, spiritual crisis or mental distress, all reminding us that nothing is perfect, and still we can experience the sensations of the moment.
This is mindfulness.
And this is probably as perfect as it gets.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: cristina at Flickr