Far From Perfect, And Beautiful Anyway

Seeing The Beautiful Scenery Along The Way

By Kate Kole

“It’s like chasing something we will never reach and missing all the beautiful scenery on the way.” That’s how my sweet friend described perfectionism in an effort to encourage me to stop being so hard on myself and to add in an extra dose of appreciation and presence instead.

She’s right. I know she’s right. And yet, still, I battle with it almost daily.

I set expectations in every area of my life – personally, professionally, spiritually, physically – and then, with laser focus, I get to work. I set out not to be, but to become. To become more experienced, educated, accomplished, and successful (whatever the hell that really means).

I strive. I achieve. I keep going. I fail. I beat myself up. I continue on. Rinse and repeat.

And in that never-ending quest towards lateral perfection, I often miss the beautiful scenery along the way. I lose out on what’s possible only in the present moment. I minimize the significance of my life as it is, right now. I minimize the value of myself, as I am right now.

In so many ways, I’ve forever defended, justified, and even glorified my perfectionist tendencies. Because, why be good when you can be great? And why rest when you can give more? And why eat dessert when a 6-pack is in sight? And why stop at one picture when the second might be better? And why settle with 92% when you can get 100%? And why leave work when a promotion is within reach?

Enjoying life is why. Relationships are why. Realizing contentment is why. Laughter is why. My well-being is why.

I could go on and maybe I should. Because each reason why that bursts from my soul and flies from my fingertips onto my keyboard is proof that perfectionism isn’t what I’ve made it out to be. That consistently striving for more isn’t always the way. That I’m okay and that things are okay as they are right now. That sometimes the best stories and fondest memories come in the most unexpected and imperfect ways.

My husband and I chose to honeymoon in Florida a few years ago. It’s a long story that I won’t fully get into now, but the reason for our decision was to attend a football game. We built our entire trip to lead up to the game, and in that 5-day span, Murphy’s Law ensued. It rained. Every single day. We tried to walk from our hotel to Disneyworld, which we quickly learned wasn’t pedestrian friendly, as cars and busses zipped by our shoulder lane hike at 50mph. Once we tromped our way back to our hotel and hopped onto a shuttle to ride to the park, it turned out Disneyworld was already at capacity. I cried. We went out to dinner. I got food poisoning. I cried again. Our team lost. We spent an afternoon at an auto shop in Mississippi finding out why it sounded like our car was about to fall apart on the interstate. We finally made it home. Exhausted. Hungry. Cranky. With loads of wet laundry to wash. And we questioned aloud every decision we made on that seeming disaster of a trip.

Now, as I tell the stories from those 5 days, I cry once more. But this time, it’s because I’ve laughed so hard that tears escape me. I laugh at the memory of my husband and I staring at each other in disbelief while shaking our heads. I laugh at the “happy honeymoon to us” song I sang as we sat on cold metal bleachers with oversized ponchos covering our bodies as water sloshed in our shoes. I laugh at the thought of him asking me “do you hear that?” as something rattled in the hood of our car. It was a far from perfect trip, and yet it made for some of my favorite memories.

So today, I’ll choose to notice the beautiful scenery. I’ll intentionally work to discover it in the most peculiar and messy moments. I’ll see if I can’t find some joy and peace there, in the uncontrollable and ‘can’t make this shit up’ kind of experiences. Because after all, that’s living.

{featured image via pexels}

2 thoughts on “Far From Perfect, And Beautiful Anyway

  1. Erika D. says:

    Wow! I feel like you read the last two things I posted, crawled into my head and whispered a reflection that could only be my own! This is so relevant to so much of what I do, and so deeply rooted in me that I barely notice when I mentally berate myself much of the time. This past year has been such a struggle for me in this area, I remember sitting in a counsellors office and legitimately uttering the words: I don’t expect to be happy all the time, I know that would be ridiculous, I just want contentment in the moment because school is driving me nuts! Thanks for reminding me I’m not the only patient in the asylum.

    Like

  2. RahulYuvi says:

    Very well written..Many a times our travel plans go haywire either during planning or during the tour itself but one just shouldn’t feel depressed or irritated since this happens with almost everybody every now & then. I remember how my kid (then a 3 year old kiddo) was running a fever touching 101 deg. Celsius just few hours before our flight to Dubai as we were heading for vacations. Once we thought of cancelling everything because condition looked really bad but then something struck me and I waited and prayed while my wife gave medicine to him .We thought of only positive things and we fell asleep exhausted.But when we woke up at 6 a.m. , there was no fever , he was super active & playing..that was the first time my wife & myself realized that positive thoughts do work..And now,whenever any uncomfortable situation arise during travel, we think of that night and it gives us immense strength …on a concluding note , your title very beautifully describes travelling – far from perfect but beautiful anyway !

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