How To Accept The Gift Of Imperfection
In my early 20’s I lived for a while in an unincorporated area, surrounded by open land. Some of it was farmed; some of it was planted in one sort of garden or another.
There I had my first experience with growing vegetables and pretty blooms. Now, forty years later, I’ve come fill circle and am living once again amid open spaces and with newly planted gardens of my own.
But I’d forgotten about the weeds.
I used to want my garden to look perfect. So I’d tackle those unwelcome weeds, starting with the ones I noticed then moving on to those trying to hide. And I’m still armoring myself in gloves, hat, and long pants and going to war on them, launching back-bending, knee-jarring attacks.
During a recent Battle Against the Weeds my mind wandered to that age-old metaphor of a Garden As Life, and I realized how easy it is to compare one with the other.
Suddenly I was no longer just digging in the dirt. I was examining myself.
No One’s Perfect
Life’s a study in contrast. There’s no light without darkness. There’s no blossom without the weed.
And we all have “weeds.”
We have characteristics we’re convinced drive everyone crazy or, worse, believe are overtaking us. Pesky, persistent scourges on our otherwise carefully manicured lives.
We have a few nuisances lurking below the surface, too…tendencies that can poke through seemingly overnight or without warning.
Self-criticism, self doubt. Feelings of inadequacy. A penchant for silencing our voices. A habit of putting off our dreams or putting ourselves last.
There may be perfect moments, but there are no perfect people.
Yet there’s beauty in imperfection…a raw, natural glory worth accepting. The aspects of ourselves we strive to eradicate also make us unique. They can actually provide us with contrast so we can notice, then appreciate, what we do love and cherish about ourselves.
This doesn’t mean we stop trying to be better people. We just try in a gentler way while remaining kind to ourselves, flaws included.
A Lot Goes on Beneath the Surface.
Even when a garden sleeps, it’s active below ground. The nutrients in the soil are regenerating. Roots are growing deeper.
When we think we’re being “unproductive” or feeling like we’re stuck and not getting anywhere, the seeds of new beginnings are germinating. They need peace, love and calm to grow.
We never know, once planted, what will sprout. We never know, once eradicated, what will reappear.
If we surrender and learn to trust the unfolding, any answers we seek will shoot through in their own time.
Self-Protection is Important.
One needs to take a few precautions when weeding a garden.
If we spray weed killer in the wrong place or, worse, ingest it, we follow the clearly marked directions on the bottle.
In much the same way, life’s instructions are pretty clearly written on our hearts: You matter. Take care of yourself.
Just as we guard against blisters and scratches when we garden, the soul needs armor to shield it from the battles we can wage against ourselves.
Self-compassion, self-trust, self-care. Loyal friends, quiet time. We need whatever keeps us healthy, growing strong, and able to burst forth again…season after season.
There’s always something that needs tending if our garden, our life is to thrive. Inevitably something will sprout the following season, something fragrant and vivid that makes us smile.
A healthy garden requires attention, vigilance and patience. Maybe even a little mercy as, given the conditions, it does the best it can to flourish.
A happy heart deserves nothing less.
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