My (im)Perfect Life

I have on occasion posted on Facebook with the hashtag #MyLifeIsPerfect. This is done more out of a sense of amazement and gratitude than bragging. Because the things I find perfect are things that you may not. And it’s not about fulfilling goals or getting myself organized. An epic, three-hour nap. Going to the Remembrance day services and meeting up with a friend who was in the Royal Navy during the war. Finding out that there’s a brand of men’s underpants called Saxx. Sublime. Juvenile. Perfect.

As a species, I think we must be genetically wired for self-improvement. If we weren’t, we’d still be living in caves and eating whatever we could find in near-by bushes. And I know a lot of us think that might actually be an improvement over how we’re living now, but we’d be hungry and dirty and cold much of the time and I, for one, never enjoy that.

So we try to improve things. Our situation, our world, ourselves. Which may have had some kind of evolutionary advantage, but, like our ability to gain weight, it gets out of whack when that’s all we do. We try to improve lives that for so many of us are, in fact, perfect already.

Maybe it’s time for me to define my terms. To me, perfect implies ‘wouldn’t change a thing’. To those who would have us improve ourselves, perfect means ‘orderly’ ‘predictable’ ‘tidy’ and, possibly, ‘anything as long as it’s different from what was’.

My perfect life is messy and unpredictable. It’s full of surprises, some of which have been wonderful and some of which I’ve learned a lot from.

There is really nothing symmetrical about it.

Life is perfect. It is not perfectible.

And it’s OK to wallow in the perfection of your life. To not want to change or improve it. It’s OK to let inertia take over and keep the same colour in your living room for decades, if you love it. To go out for breakfast with the same group of people week after week for years and accomplish nothing more than going out for breakfast and being friends.

Alan and I have been pushing hard for the last four years to start our bakery/keep it afloat/launch an expansion. We’re at a good place. Nothing really needs to be added to our lives. And yet, I find it really hard to sit down for an afternoon with my knitting and a good book. Because it accomplishes nothing but knitting and reading. But, when I overcome that disinclination, I turn the pages, look around, sigh happily and realize my life is perfect.

That can feel like a dangerous sentiment. We’re not supposed to be content. The economy will come crashing down if we are and we’ve been told the gods will smite us.

But will they? If we’re grateful for the perfection of our lives we won’t need the gods of commerce and, while they will hate that, I’m starting to believe that they are rendered impotent by contentment. And if other forces cause our lives to change, cause us to lose the lovely bits that we call perfect (and they will – life is never static) we will at least have the comfort of having taken those moments to truly appreciate the bits of perfection we now miss. And when we wipe the tears away, we can take a deep breath, look around and appreciate the perfection that surrounds us in this moment.

When I was little, I used to look forward to things – parties, visits from favourite people, parades. And I would look forward and look forward and look forward and then, whooosh! The day would be over and I would be a little bit sad, wondering if I’d noticed everything I could have, if I’d gotten every last scrap of enjoyment out of it. And so I developed the habit of finding a mirror somewhere (usually in the bathroom) looking myself deep in the eyes and saying “This is happening!” just so I could keep myself right here in this so-anticipated moment. I don’t specifically do that any more. But that sense of appreciation has stayed with me and I try to make note of all the wonky, perfect moments in my life.

How about you? Bent on improvement? Or willing to put your feet up and leave the laundry for awhile as you make note of the goodness?

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