Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Beauty of Imperfection

“There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way.” ~ Christopher Morley

Some time ago I pondered about how different my life is now compared to what it was when I was younger. I remember needing others’ approval a lot, especially when it came to my parents. Although they never had non-realistic expectations for me, I had them for myself.

Anything less than a straight A was not good enough for me at school, and I always strived to reach perfection. I kept my house fairly neat but polished it within an inch of its life if someone was coming over. Same with the kids – I had this image made up in my mind of the perfect household, and anything less than that simply wasn’t good enough.

Somehow, through the years, I changed. It was not anything I did different, or anything I consciously acknowledged, but over time I realized that happy children are more fun than perfectly behaved children, and a house that’s not completely organized is more comfortable to live in.

My huge test was this year, when my parents came to visit. I had been extremely busy before their arrival, and had no chance to organize my house the way I always did. I took a look at it right before going to the airport and told myself it really didn’t matter – my parents were coming to see me, not my house.

And indeed I was right. I don’t think my parents thought twice about the toys or anything else that wasn’t in place. They were so happy to see us that we could have lived in a rundown shed and they wouldn’t have noticed.

That’s when I realized how often we needlessly worry about things that are only alive in our own minds. We assume we know how people will feel because that’s the way we would in their place, but in reality we have no way of knowing.

I have friends who have destroyed relationships because they were certain their partner was being unfaithful, when in fact the other person had no intention to betray them. Their doubts were the mere product of their own insecurities.

These days I no longer worry about what others think. I accept the fact that they may live, think or behave differently than I do, and I am comfortable being my own person.

Perfection is a state of mind, and it truly is in the eyes of the beholder. I believe my life is perfect as is now – I don’t have a perfect house, perfect children, a perfect spouse, and I am certainly not perfect myself, but I am happy and at peace. Even when some things remain undone.

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