(Reposting of thoughts that carry as much, if not more, meaning today than the day I wrote it.)
“Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life.” – Dr. David M. Burns
Perfection is the ideal but the perfect result may be entirely different. The fabric of our identity is not defined by what we originally envision for ourselves but the difficulties that we ultimately have to confront to get to where we eventually end up.
We struggle too often with our expectations and what we feel we deserve which sometimes is masked behind feelings of entitlement. Quoting a line from an old movie, “deserving has got nothing to do with it” or at least our perception of it. Do you really think that God has children born into starving countries or impoverished communities because they deserve it? That doesn’t make sense and the simple answers as to why it happens is that “I don’t know”, and “it’s not for me to know”. Thinking about “why them”, and “why not me”, is as perplexing when things are not going well for us and we form the questions “why me” and “why not them?” Same simple answers.
Ask any adult with some years behind them if everything has turned out the way they dreamed whether you want to pin it down on a personal, professional, family, social, physical, creative, or emotional level. The initial goals and aspirations were based on an ideal yet inexperienced vision of perfection. The better question is to ask them to compare those dreams to what turned out “perfect” and why. I’m pretty sure it will be different yet harder to define.
Here’s anothet perfect example. Ask this other question to any adult who’s ever faced the challenge of raising a child well, or been married an extended period of time if this reality ever set in: I knew this wasn’t going to be easy but I didn’t know it was going to be this hard!
We understand the basic reasons as to “why” but figuring out the intricate causes that separated our results from another’s with similar circumstance is perplexing. I mean why did Brian Piccolo (“Brian’s Song) die in his 20’s from lung cancer after never smoking, and others live into their 90’s after smoking a pack a day? Why did my best friend’s car get struck by a drunk driver and he was the one who died? How does a younger, healthier person suffer a head injury/bleed, seizure, and die or end up incapacitated, and I survive with a better than expected recovery? It troubles me but its better off left to “I don’t know”, and “it’s not important for me to know” since I guess “deserving has got nothing to do with it.”
All unfortunate things happen for a reason whether we may not always understand why at the time. Sometimes the weight that drags our hearts down takes us to where we need to be. By being there, we may not find what we want but we can better identify what we don’t want, what we don’t need, what we don’t want to happen, and where we don’t want to be again. We have a better understanding of our large and small successes in the past, and how misguided we were to think we were entitled to more. Most importantly, we learn how to measure success differently so that the fruits of our efforts are hopefully better appreciated when we see them again.
Trust me, something does come from what may seem like “nothing” at the time. It’s only temporary even though we may feel like we’re wasting away under the fatigue. I’ve accepted that our lives, when stripped to their basics, can make the solutions less complex than they need to be and only complicated by what we feel we are owed from how much we despaired.
Don’t lose hope because success begins from any amount of optimism. Feeling alone is only a condition of the situation, not a product of our overall circumstances. Beyond those near us, there are 7 billion people on this planet that should convince us that we’ll never be alone. Chances are that we’re closer than we know to where we want and “deserve” to be, so slow down, breathe, and take better steps based on what we’ve learned and where we’ve been!