The Pathology of Perfect
I believe in energy and the connectedness of things. I’m not a fatalist, but I do believe that sometimes – for very good reasons – we get similar messages about the very same things from multiple places and we are meant to pay attention because it is important. First, Lori….When I had dinner with my wise friend, Lori, a couple of weeks ago we talked about the unrealistic expectations that many of our friends have about what their lives are supposed to be which, for the most part, is a very unbalanced view. She and I have both been tested in some very challenging ways so that has helped us both to realize certain realities about life that they may not yet have. According to them it is “supposed” to be a lot of things – good, easy, joyful, exciting, loving, and [insert your favorite positive word here]. Who says? Who ever said that you would get even one minute of any of that?
This reaffirmed a lesson from therapy long ago…the expression “it is what it is” which is the notion of Radical Acceptance. It means that you very simply and completely embrace circumstances for what they are….experiencing them fully and finding something beautiful still despite how dismal those circumstance may be. Or, at a minimum, you use them as a later reference point to more fully appreciate beauty when things do finally shift for the better. Very often the joy and beauty are in the contrast itself. I am aware of this in everything I do and have been for years.
Followed by a random book…just a few days after dinner while at Barnes & Noble searching for a book that our CEO referenced called “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?” I happened across another book instead with a cover showing a woman with a laptop sitting on an elephant’s back. Curious, I thought. An elephant. So, I picked it up. It is entitled “Fearless at Work” which seems like the title of a book I ought to read right about now in my career. One of the very first chapters talks about this idea as well. It talks about accepting circumstances and in particular addresses the notion the author calls “no delight, no courage.” He says “(t)o be human is to confront truly difficult circumstances, no doubt: disease, poverty, tragedies, and frustrations of all kinds. Yet, for all of us, there is always, always the possibility of delight…” I bought the book, brought it on my trip to Spain and have been practicing these concepts again in new ways.
And finally a lovely man named Daniel…While away on business I had the pleasure of spending time with a very interesting man. He is smart, and well-traveled, and seems to have a very full life. I asked him quite simply if he acquired this comfort level and desire to travel during his childhood and if his parents exposed him to new places. He started with, “well…I have a lot of fun stories from my childhood” and proceeded to tell me that he was raised in Prague…behind the iron curtain. (Fun? He led with the word fun…) and went on to explain how their ability to travel was greatly limited for political reasons but that his parents were a part of a underground movement retyping forbidden text by candlelight on hidden typewriters stashed in his house, and hiking hours in the woods to participate in well-orchestrated “flash-mob” type gatherings to swap LPs – Beatles for The Rolling Stones before these participants would disperse again and go their own ways. He told stories of a diplomat smuggling a Xerox copier into the city in a large Chrysler Station Wagon so that they could finally copy and disperse text more readily en masse, and having to move that copier week to week to stay one step ahead of the police. Today Daniel travels all over the world, heli-skis and works for the large format copier Division of our company just as I do. In his case, it has more significance than in mine. But, like me, he is practicing gratitude and abundance in everything that he does.
I will leave you with these simple examples and one question. Could it be, perhaps, that what is making our society the most ill is the “Pathology of Perfect” and our own internal expectations of what is supposed to be rather than simply accepting life for what it really is in total ...difficult, beautiful, unpredictable, tremendous…and most of all to be cherished? Something to think about.