The desire for perfection
Since we arrived at our home in rural New Zealand more than a month ago, we have worked almost daily to bring the property into good shape.
We have cleaned spider webs, stained the parts of the house that needed it the most, cleaned the interiors, weeded the garden, trimmed dead tree limbs, mowed the banks and worked ceaselessly.
The property has looked much better with each passing day.
Yesterday I walked around the exterior of the house, and examined some of the areas that we have attended to, and that looked good just a few weeks ago.
I felt disheartened to see that most of the places we cleaned so well, need our care and attention again.
I felt a sense of dread, and later in the day I felt sick and started coughing.
I knew that I had dropped my energies and allowed bad and dispirited thinking into my mind, and that this is why I was feeling ill.
I also knew that if I did not wish to get sick, I needed to examine why I was feeling so dispirited.
I reflected on this subject all day.
I can honestly say that living in rural NZ, has taught me more life lessons than I can verbalize.
I have learnt so much, and I am still learning more with every passing week.
One of the things I still have to learn, is how to let go of the desire for perfection.
Both Jules and I are overachievers.
We yearn to do things well and we constantly try to learn from our mistakes and do things better.
Living in a wooden Japanese house in a rural hilly place on the shores of an island, with a constant drift of misty salty air and winds from the ocean, combined with strong sun rays and humid air that comes from an abundance of rain, has taught me that if I wanted to enjoy my life, I simply MUST let go of the desire for perfection.
It was not an easy lesson…
We like things to stay neat and organized after we fix them…. At least for a little while….
But keeping up a property is not a neat process… It is messy and dusty, and houses need constant care, just as we care for our bodies.
Caring for a property is much like needing to take showers- it is never done, you have to keep on doing it…
It is the same with feeding our hungry stomachs, or doing the dishes….there are certain tasks that you simply have to do continuously… They are never done.
If I allow my spirit to get discouraged by the fact that the tasks are never done, I will not enjoy my life here.
It is like painting in the studio.
You show up every day and you do your work.
One day at a time, makes for a week of creative work.
If you do your work with a smile and do not get overwhelmed by the enormity of the tasks, you get to have enjoyable working days.
I guess I should be grateful that I even have a beautiful property to maintain.
I AM grateful for the blessings in my life, but I also recognize that my own personality traits and tendencies are working against me in this.
When I start a project, I do not mind working hard for many days to complete it, but I do want it DONE eventually.
I am not used to having the weather interfere and prevent me from continuing the process for weeks.
It feels frustrating to be stuck indoors for weeks, seeing the rain lash all the decks that we have cleaned, but did not get a chance to stain.
It is a humbling experience, to notice my irritation, to recognize the desire for control and perfection behind it, and to decide to let it go.
Sometimes we have to find the patience to accept that things will be in the process of getting done, and not be impatient and want to see them done immediately.
If you had told me years ago that a piece of land in an idyllic location and a Japanese designed house would become a great teacher to me, I would have never believed it…..
But everything that mirrors to us the inner spaces in our personalities that we need to smooth, is indeed our teacher.
It is funny….the more I examine my personality, the more I recognize how imperfect my personality is, how often I make mistakes, how much I have to learn, and how much I have to let go of…
I now understand the saying that “True growth and understanding of life, is NOT a process of acquiring knowledge, but of removing obstacles to the awareness of Love’s presence.”
I have no idea where I got the inner notion for a desire for perfection in my work, in myself and around me…. It is definitely a wrong notion that can bring nothing but unhappiness.
It is not perfection that we should strive for, not in us and not in others, but a lightness of being…
A lightness of being that comes from embracing those things that bring light and rest to our hearts.