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This past week, I was pulled into a conversation quite by accident. I was on my way to the break room by way of the conference area where others were having lunch – mostly women, mostly young. The conversation was on soul mates. Now, my thoughts on that are likely light years from the opinions being shared in that room, and my first instinct was to walk faster. It didn’t work…

Eventually, the conversation turned to something broader – the idea of perfection. Surely you see how the concept of soul mates, would imply for many, an ideal relationship of ideal persons. And yet, how can it be when we are imperfect in almost every way?

I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to be imperfect. Maybe it’s related to getting older, but there is nothing remotely attractive about perfection. I don’t want to be it, achieve it, advise on the process of achieving it, much less sleep with it. If we arrive at a notion that we are without flaw, then what purpose living? How can we hope to learn something new, to grow from the place where a scar used to be?

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”

Maybe we would do good to focus more on the fact that we are perfect. No, I didn’t change channels on you. This – the beautiful paradox. Even though I have no desire to be perfect, another voice tells me that I am already for I am perfectly ‘me’. This combination of flaws, scars, mistakes, wrong turns, and near misses – it is the formula that got me here. Were it not for the way I came, could I be who I am? Every experience, every burden is for a reason – anticipation for a future beyond our ability to see.

We only have to begin. In my harshest seasons, I’ve returned from the colorless world of heartache by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single wondrous thing – the crimson umbrella of a weeping plum outside my bedroom window, family around a table holding hands (my hands), the ghost that haunts the surface of the moon.

I’ve become an expert at learning to be in love with my life again. Like a stroke survivor relearning to walk, I have taught myself joy, over and over again.

Soul mates? Aren’t we all – in some form or another? We are tied together by invisible thread, part of an amazing tapestry of other imperfect (perfect) beings. Our purpose, our joy is in allowing those we love to be perfectly (imperfectly) themselves, without the need to make them the same as we are. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love our reflection in them. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that you don’t love someone because they’re perfect, but rather in spite of the fact that they’re not.

Anyone can love someone ‘because’. That’s as easy as folding down a page, or pushing a stray hair behind your ear. But to have love ‘despite’ – to know the flaws and love them as well. That is rare and pure and yeah, that’s perfect.

“We laugh and laugh, and nothing can ever be sad, no one can be lost, or dead, or far away: right now we are here, and nothing can mar our perfection, or steal the joy of this perfect moment.”

I am grateful to be always a work in progress.

. . .

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