“You are perfect”
“Do not change a thing”
“You are beautiful just the way you are”
What do these have in common?
They make for decent music lyrics. They are also lies.
You are not perfect. No one is. That’s okay. Perfection is not something we should be striving for. Strive for better. Strive for continuous improvement. You are beautiful? Yes, maybe. But “perfect” or “just the way you are”? No. It’s an illusion. It is not attainable, and even if it was, how boring would that be! A smart and creative man of name Leo and last name Cohen said it best: “Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in”.
Here is the twist: although you are not perfect, you are enough. You do not need to change, but you also do not need to stay the same. You do not need to do anything for that matter. Really. Want to lay on a park and learn how to photosynthesize? Go for it. But, if you are interested in accepting the imperfect and striving for better, read on.
I believe the closest to perfection is somewhere at our core. As those who know or pretend to know say: perfection is not when you cannot add anything else, but when nothing needs to be removed. Minimalism is friends with perfection, it seems. That is how we meet this world, as minimalists. Crying minimalist babies. There is a lot of pureness and a great lack of issues when we are born. Malice, resentment, hate, insecurities, and many other negative states are at an all time low when we are little tiny slobbering babies. There is also a great deal of incompleteness. We cannot remain alive on our own. There goes his head, the baby’s head, into a bucket of water and... he is gone. So we need adults to watch over us. Nonetheless, we were content, we were curious, we were in constant growth. Although we are not perfect now, we were not perfect back then either. Maybe if we could just perhaps keep the pureness and add only positives, then perfection would be achieved?
Then we start living, and start experiencing. Ideally, we live and we learn. Ideally, we keep the good that we learn and shake off the bad that comes along with each lesson. But life is not butterflies. And it should not be. God knows how chaotic that would be considering the butterfly effect and all. For lessons to be learned hardships must be endured. For growth to come by, pain must pay a visit first. So, while we collect lessons and grow emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually, we endure hardships and feel pain. Some of it stays. Some of it we continue to carry, usually in the form of mental and emotional tattoos we call memories, and it accumulates.
If we carry the bad for long enough, or carry enough of it, we start to confuse it for our identity. We revisit or invent negative thoughts often because what else is there to do in this world of endless possibilities? Like a scar, with each additional scratch it becomes a more permanent part of you. Or so it seems, for there is light at the end of the tunnel. Self contemplation and constant checkups can prevent you becoming the embodiment of negative states of mind. A hard and long look at ourselves allows us to realize that yes we are insecure, that yes we are envious, that yes we resent some-ones, and that we regret some-things, but also that yes we feel all those things now, but we do not have to feel them tomorrow, or the day after. There is an important distinction between what we are and the luggage we carry around. And at one point, with effort, patience and some luck comes the realization that no you are not insecure, no you are not envious, no you do not resent. Our consciousness experiences those feelings and reactions, but it is not you. At least not if you choose it not to be. Because while the memories and thoughts might be there, you get to either interact with them or let them go.
You are not your feelings, you are not your thoughts. You are the curious baby you once were, plus all the growth you have experienced ever since. All that life. A collection of experiences and decisions, but at a point in time. It is never permanent. It is in constant flux. It is ephemeral. But it is nearly pointless to define a state that changes so rapidly, so we construct a mental model to define us. We say, “I am the average of what lives on in my head from one moment to the next.” And what lives on exactly? Well, thoughts and feelings for the most part, and a body to carry them from our desk to happy hour. Wait. A. Fucking. Second. There is a conscience behind the scenes as well, is it not? An observant. An awareness. Otherwise who experiences the thoughts and feelings? That, the observant, is you. Observing, until you recognize it is there. From then on, you are in control of what remains and what you let go. The observant is no longer just observing. It becomes the self. Woah... Under the layers of thoughts and feelings your consciousness awakens to interact with them. From then on a thought is as transitory as Ryan Gosling’s music career. (Which career?... Exactly). From then, where you are and where you want to be is decisions away. But failing to recognize your own ability to change yourself is what makes it appear permanent, and that is a dangerous state of mind. Or worse yet, realizing that you can create change within yourself, and failing to do so. That is an insult to those who wish they could.
How do you let those thoughts go? What does “let go” even mean? It means that you recognize they are there, and say “oh look, I’m thinking about my ex”, then just calmly go back to being in the moment, or choose a different thought. Maybe one about baby pandas. One thing you do not do is to suppress those thoughts and feelings, for that gives them importance and creates internal conflicts. Instead, think of them as a lesson to be learned. If those thoughts keep coming back maybe the lesson was not mastered. So learn well, that way you only need to learn once. Then let go.
That perspective fundamentally alters the meaning of “change”. Change for the better is the worthwhile and noble desire that self-help books, and maybe these words, fail to convince you to pursue as the goal. Change does not need to be made of drastic actions. It is a constant reminder to, from one moment to the next and at every moment, select what you keep and what you let go.
This is my invitation for you to forget about perfect. To find growth and embrace it. Likewise, an invitation to notice the negative carry-ons in this plane of life, learn from them, make peace and let go. May they fall onto somebody’s house (maybe your ex’s). You are not perfect, and that is okay because you are enough. Maybe a little more enough each day.