Work in progress

peacock-feather

“Every Warrior of the Light has felt afraid of going into battle.
Every Warrior of the Light has, at some time in the past, lied or betrayed someone.
Every Warrior of the Light has trodden a path that was not his.
Every Warrior of the Light has suffered for the most trivial of reasons.
Every Warrior of the Light has, at least once, believed he was not a Warrior of the Light.
Every Warrior of the Light has failed in his spiritual duties.
Every Warrior of the Light has said ‘yes’ when he wanted to say ‘no.’
Every Warrior of the Light has hurt someone he loved.
That is why he is a Warrior of the Light, because he has been through all this
and yet has never lost hope of being better than he is.”
Paulo Coelho

There are people who come and go in our lives, some who may seem all important for a while, yet fade away to nothingness, some who creep in almost unnoticed and take up residence in the heart and soul, kicking off their shoes and sharing the comfort of their soul’s fireside, some who resemble the flames of the fire itself, bringing an incandescent spark of Light into your life.

With these the distance that may lie in between does not matter. Heart to heart, mind to mind, soul to soul the communication is whole, sincere and true. And with a rare few that sharing reaches a very deep level and wanders down some very strange pathways indeed from time to time as words become the deepest discussions.

Conversations like this tend to be punctuated by much laughter and silliness, and may be peppered with a fair amount of naughtiness too. It is an odd thing, but a true one, that those I have met whom I count as the most truly evolved in the spiritual sense all share a decidedly earthy sense of humour. When our discussions have addressed this, the answer has always been a take on the same theme…that those who have reached a certain level of being no longer hide behind a mask of quasi sainthood, but embrace their whole being with gusto, warts, as they say, and all.

They have often lived colourful lives, experiencing a rich tapestry of emotions and events beyond the humdrum normality of the ordinary; these few recognise and accept the full extent of their humanity, seeing in it only the action of the Divine Life. They cheerfully accept their own frailties and foibles and those, it seems, of everyone else around them as simply part of the beauty of life in motion, a perfection continuously unfolding rather than a flawed and static actuality. When they hit a stumbling block, as we all do from time to time, they simply roll their sleeves up and get on with life.

There are, for all of us at some point, mornings when we must drag ourselves from bed to face a world we do not want to see or be seen by. Where that hour around 3am seems to last an eternity of ‘what ifs’ and all choices seem to lead to heartache. Mornings where the night has broken trust and we face the dawn with only the bitter kiss of ‘why?’ upon our lips.

We can face the day hidden in brittle laughter or withdraw into silence, closing the windows of the soul and drawing the blinds to incubate our misery. Or shout the hurt from the rooftops in anger to gather sympathy or attention.

Or we can look ourselves squarely in the eyes in the bathroom mirror and say, ‘Today you are lucky. Today you have reached another crossroads. Today you have an opportunity for change. Today you can take responsibility for the next phase of your journey.’

Quite often we expect both too much and not enough of ourselves, once we have set our feet firmly upon a path of faith and growth, regardless of how we see that Light. We expect perfection now and are disappointed with ourselves when we fail, forgetting perhaps that we are works in progress, experiencing rather than experienced. Then our inner failure can plunge us into despair… which we may also see as another failure… and we wade through the treacle of dark emotions, instead of remembering that we ourselves are in charge of the sticky stuff and can choose to see opportunity for change instead of the molasses of negativity in which we have caught ourselves like flies.

Sometimes, we are too hard on ourselves. We are works in progress, but the perfection we strive for is already part of us. Maybe we need to be a little gentler with ourselves.

21 thoughts on “Work in progress

  1. This is the second time this week that Paulo Coelho crossed my eyes. Time for me to read more of his work, it seems. This is a beautiful piece, Sue. There is something very liberating about giving up the impossible pursuit of perfection and accepting the warts and all. You’re right that giving up all that stress makes room for humor and joy. I love the idea that we are works in progress (like our books), our stories not quite wrapped up, character deepening and evolving, and the creative process far more entertaining than the perfect product.

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  2. Wow, I so needed to hear this. You have nailed exactly where I’m at. Recently I acted like a victim. First, I responded by hiding in my room for two days. Then I tried to get sympathy. And then I still felt anxious, terrified, and at war with myself. But I had remembered this was not the way I wanted to live. So I felt like I had failed, and got angry and vindictive with me for not seeing the victim trap earlier and avoiding it perfectly. Unfortunately there have been one or two times in the past when I questioned whether I deserved to identify with being on a spiritual growth journey, because I made too many mistakes and certainly could not be growing for that reason. And right now, I am hoping, wanting, and trying to make sure all those moments are squarely in the past and I won’t experience another one. Yep, exactly the trajectory you mapped out here.

    My ancient family, who yes definitely have an earthy sense of humor and for whom nothing is too awkward or unpleasant or unbecoming to talk about have an openness to themselves and others, and especially about who they were in the past, which accounts for 90% of my greatful yet astonished bafflement in my day to day. Somehow they can be totally honest about something, take accountability, and have no judgment–even if they’re referring to their past self. They treat me how I have never quite figured out how to treat myself– with complete acceptance, love, and compassion. And while I sit here terrified I am unworthy and have failed the current mission on the journey because of (insert gnarly events plus the fact that I don’t feel worthy) they hold space for me and insist I am enough. I hope we can all one day see that in ourselves without endless, constant reminding. I am still rendered speechless when someone in this world or the next tells me that I have nothing to fix about myself, I’m imperfect and it’s okay. That is usually the reason for my waking up with “why?” on my face. Because I acted like a victim, but I still have light in me, I’m still worthy, and I am still loved. One day I’ll get beyond the dumbstruck wow phase to really feeling it in myself as truth. But for now…wow…why?…grateful.

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    1. I’m glad this came as a timely piece for you, Eilis. We do castigate ourselves for our perceived ‘failures’ and forget how much they actually teach us. Any great work has to evolve… the book from the words, the sculpture from the clay… the transition from the raw state to the finished work is a process.

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  3. I love it when people use the term ‘perfect’ to describe their lives, relationships, souffle.. perfection is for barbie dolls forever frozen in time in plastic. Our pursuit of perfection in ourselves and others causes more heartache and pain than almost anything else. Relationships are a classic example. We marry a man or woman and then set about trying to change them into who we think they should be to suit us! There is an old line which I love.. A woman waited all her life to find the perfect man and she did; but he was waiting for the perfect woman. hugs

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  4. Beautifully stated. Is it human nature to strive for the impossible? The harsh reality is perfection is out of reach no matter how hard we try. Yes, we should be gentler with ourselves.

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