When we reach a certain age – that awful age when we realise more time lies behind us than could ever lie before us – a change comes over us.
Somehow, our mortality and our regrets, the huge gap between what we had hoped and what is our reality, become more defined.
At that moment, in one final desperate leap to stave off our finite humanity, the temptation is to either compel ourselves to close this gap by any means possible or to let ourselves slide into a spiral of negativity, dwelling on our perceived failures and losses.
Is this the point in our lives when we should stop dreaming and simply accept that this is as good as it’s going to get?
Of course, there are certain realities in life that maturity forces us to accept – ill health, financial problems, responsibilities that youth neither knows nor cares about. These limits could cause resentment and anger to eat away at our peace of mind.
If we are to find happiness in our old age, if we are to avoid the curse of becoming grumpy old men and women, we need to face the shadows looming out of our fears. We need to embrace our limitations, as well as our secret, festering wounds and those irritating imperfections with the same fervour we embraced our wild and youthful dreams.
Once we accept that as much as our humanity includes the inevitability of lost dreams and lost loves, it also excludes the possibility of perfection, we can open our hearts to a different dream: one that finds contentment in the mellow moods of middle-age. We can slow down and listen to the silence between each breath rather than run ever faster in a futile attempt to overcome the inevitable imperfections in our lives.
When we no longer deny our human-ness, when we accept that we were born imperfect beings in an imperfect world, it is then that we begin to evolve beyond the tyranny of perfection.
We can then treat ourselves, and others too, with a little more kindness, a little more tolerance. And then we can begin to aspire to new dreams anchored in the reality of our ordinary lives, but with the potential to carry us through to the end of this, our life’s journey.
|The art of imperfection teaches us how to accept the gap
between what we want to be and what we are.
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