The Wisdom Of Imperfection

“In God’s economy, nothing is wasted.”
~Bill Wilson

I watched my dog, Shakespeare, run on the beach, propelled by some invisible inner joy. He ran in large figure eights until he tired and laid down at my feet, panting heavily. He looked up at me with eyes so bright, I couldn’t help but smile at him. I knelt down and stroked his head. In a few minutes, he got back up, ready to explore the seaweed strewn up on shore. We walked north, me plodding in the heavy sand, Shakespeare darting from one exciting discovery to the next. I couldn’t help but note the differences in our demeanor. I was preoccupied with my thoughts of a past mistake. He was free, unencumbered by the past.

I ruminated about a decision I had made as we walked. The outcome had not been favorable as I had thought it would be. The weight of it, the embarrassment of it, pressed heavy on my heart. A seagull flew low to the ground as if playing tag with Shakespeare. I thought to myself; God sure created a wonderful world. As the two of them moved in tandem together, I realized that in God’s creation there was room for my imperfection, my mistakes.

God uses our mistakes to show us valuable lessons. We can learn humility and gain wisdom from our mistakes. I’m giving my mistake to you, God. Use it to help me grow, I thought. With each step, my heart grew lighter. As I focused on the here and now, the weight of the past lifted, and I found myself running to catch up with Shakespeare who had stopped to sniff a piece of driftwood. The gull circled above us then flew out over the sea. I watched its wings move gracefully against the breeze. Shakespeare looked up at me and I swear he seemed to know something had shifted inside of me. “I gave God my mistake. I’m okay now,” I said. “Come on, let’s walk a little bit more.” That’s all he needed to hear. He took off running, his tongue hanging out of his mouth and his eyes bright with joy. I knew just how he felt!

What You Love The Most

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do,
so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.
~Mark Twain

“Are you sixty?” the young cashier asked me as she rang up my produce.
“I will be in a few weeks,” I answered.
She nodded. “It’s senior discount day, today,” she said and smiled. “Just trying to save you some money. Hope I didn’t insult you.”
“Not in the least,” I reassured her.”Why should I be insulted by looking my age?”

That’s been happening more and more; clerks asking me if I qualify as a senior. I look in the mirror and see the lines of age now mapping my face. But instead of wishing (or Botoxing) the lines away, I look at my face as a testament to the many years I’ve been blessed to live. But I don’t spend too much time looking back. I’m looking forward to the years I’ve yet to live. And I’m going to live them to the fullest.

No matter what stage of life you are in, live the life you want to live. Ignore the naysayers who tell you that you can’t have what you want. You can if you are willing to create it. Here’s one way to do that. Make a list of what you love. Then from that list make a list of what you love the most. Those are the things to put your time and energy into keeping or acquiring.  Those are the things that will help you to live a life you won’t regret.

Disappointed? You’re Forgetting This.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.
And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

All day it snowed. I anxiously watched from my window as white blanketed the backyard, making the landscape look otherworldly. As the hands of the clock moved closer to the evening hours, my heart filled with disappointment. The big birthday celebration I had planned wasn’t going to happen. I called my friends and told them we’d postpone until the following weekend. I’m sure they could hear the frustration in my voice. I had planned an interesting evening of activities for us to enjoy. I had bought costumes, props, and I’d even written a short story to set the stage for our celebration. We were going to end our evening walking through Aspen handing out small gifts and sweets to strangers. But it wasn’t going to take place on my special day. I would turn forty-four alone, watching the snow fall. Funny, how sixteen years later, as I quickly approach my sixtieth birthday, I can still remember the emotions I felt that day.

Looking back, I see that what I was missing at that time in my life was the ability to be grateful. I didn’t understand that everything in my life was a gift. Even the things I didn’t like. Even the things that hurt. Even the things that frightened me. Now, having grown spiritually, I’m more able to sit with any disappointment and swaddle it in gratitude. It doesn’t take too long before my heart fills once again with peace and joy.

Gratitude is a response we learn how to cultivate through time and practice. Eventually, we learn how to hang out in gratitude far more than we hang out in disappointment. For disappointment is only fear in disguise; we’re afraid that we’ve lost out on something—we didn’t get what we wanted. Gratitude, on the other hand, reminds us that we didn’t lose anything at all—in fact, we’ve gained something instead, even if it’s only a new lesson or insight.

 

 

Compassion For Fear

When the sun had finished lighting the day and slipped below the night sky, I put my work away and turned my attention to the kitchen. A hearty stew had simmered all afternoon, filling the house with the aroma of caramelized onions and bay leaves. I sat at the kitchen table and ate slowly, savoring the rich broth.

I finished my dinner and stood at the sink, holding dishes under the warm spray of water. Be here now, I thought to myself. Feel the water. Feel the smooth roundness of the plate, the cold steel of the pots and pans. But thoughts—judgements—crept in, no matter how hard I tried to stay present. They were thoughts that bubbled up from the pit of fear that lives inside of me.

I dried the dishes and pulled on my coat and scarf. I went out and sat in the garden, under the ancient light of the stars. The moon rose, filling the night with a pale glow—the sun’s reflection. “See there?” I whispered to the fear inside of me. “See that light?” I pointed to the heavens. The light is always shining, no matter how dark it may seem,”  I whispered. “Come and sit in the light with me. Talk to me. Tell me what you want me to know.”

The fear that lives within me jumped into my lap and trembled, telling me its worries and woes. “There, there,” I said. “Thank you for sharing with me.” I breathed in the cool of the night air and exhaled. “Feel better now that you’ve got that off your chest?” I asked.

“Yes,” fear replied and then scampered down and began walking away.

“I know you’ll come back. When you do, I’ll be here to listen to you, to comfort you,” I called out as it faded from view. A breeze pushed its way through the garden. I pulled my scarf up over my head. I smiled, completely at ease. I had a full belly, a beautiful night’s sky above me, and fear was gone. I looked up in time to see a shooting star race towards the horizon before I went inside and made myself ready for sleep, ready for when the sun curled her fingers back around the Earth.

 

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