In An Imperfect World

25th April 2011 by Paul

Do you have anything imperfect that you just love, regardless of the flaws?

Yes!” I can hear Helen say. And as she does, in my mind I can also imagine that slightly contorted look she’ll have on her face, as if to say “what a dumb question!”

But I’m thinking about my Merrel Arctic Chill boots. I bought them in Chita, about half way across far eastern Russia. The first time I put them on, they fit like a glove – no tight spots, and no excess space anywhere. They actually felt like I’d already worn them in for about a year. Then, about five weeks later, one of the top lugs used for lacing up the right boot fell off. Its been in my toiletry bag ever since, waiting for me to have time to fiddle it back on and fix it in place – probably with a rivet. Every morning, as I tie my boots, I’m reminded of the imperfection as I lace my right boot in a slightly different way to the left.

But do you know, I don’t mind one bit, because these boots feel wonderful on my feet, providing me with huge grip, warmth and comfort. I wouldn’t give these up for anything. Well, maybe not ANYTHING! But you’d have to come up with a damn good offer or threat.

Some things, no matter how imperfect, or damaged, or just not quite right, are forgiven. Because we love them. Other things have to work harder for that privilege.

Which got me thinking about imperfection, and how hard it is sometimes to see beyond it.

When Helen and I were stranded in Seattle, and the US Border Protection people seemed to be doing their damnest to make our life complicated and expensive, we fell into a routine way of thinking that focused on the imperfection of things. We certainly didn’t love U.S.B.P. very much!

We began complaining about what was going wrong, reciting the tale to whoever would listen. It was as if telling everyone would facilitate some kind of purging of the bad feelings. I guess we were after the sympathy vote, wanting people to acknowledge and validate our sense of intense frustration and injustice. We felt entitled.

But the more we talked about it, the more the venom rose, the more victimised we felt, the more miserable we became. And the more our resolve and resourcefulness fell away.

In those few troubled weeks, we completely lost sight of the fact that we had managed to successfully make our way across 20,000 kilometres of Europe, Asia and Russia. We forgot about the hundreds of days we had been surrounded by the mystery and perfection of nature. We forgot about the dozens of wonderful people who have shown us love and kindness, and who have enhanced our trip so far. We conveniently failed to remember the many well wishers at home who still regularly send messages of support, and are thinking about us often.

And in forgetting all this, not only did we succumb to the self made misery of living in the imperfection of things, but we disabled ourselves. We became incapable of seeing the way out – the way forward.

Then, one morning, in the shaddowy fog of half sleep just before my eyes registered the growing light of dawn, I became aware of the stupidity and pointlessness of it all.

Life IS imperfect. Some things are not right. Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes things are so wrong that we can barely comprehend how we will survive. And there are even days when it seems our very principles are being violated. But here’s the thing. Allowing ourselves to be consumed by what’s wrong doesn’t help one jot.

There is always a lot to be grateful for. More so than not, I’m prepared to venture. Focusing on what is right energises us, gives us access to the resourcefulness we need to overcome the hurdles and obstacles of life. Focusing on what is wrong, strips that away.

So when I wake up in the morning, and lace my boots, I’m reminded of the importance of falling in love again each day – with myself, my life, with those I care about, and with my dreams – despite their flaws. And I resolve to take action on something that can make more right those things which are not right, yet.

I love my boots. And one day, maybe, I’ll fix that rivet.

One Response to “In An Imperfect World”

  1. Stephanie Quappe says:

    Love your entry Paul, just as in former times! Luv and I were just complaining about injustice at work. Fondly remember the concept of “response”ability – thanks for reminding us!

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