I Can’t Be Perfect, But I Can Practice.

February 5, 2019 | Filed Under Things I Think About | No Comments

My mother was perfect—the perfect wife, mother, chatelaine, hostess, employee—whatever she did, she was perfect at it. As a child, however, I was far from perfect, though I gave it a serious try for many years. I still have a number of complicated feelings and unresolved issues concerning perfection.

Some days, it manifests as an unreasoning perfectionism; other days, it’s a rebellion against perfectionism, and reminding myself that done is better than perfect. Still other days, it comes out as the feeling that since I can’t be perfect, there’s no reason to try. The amount of sleep I’ve had the night before has a significant effect on my perspective (on this and many other things). This struggle with perfection directly affects my relationship with my deities and my attempts to live a life of active belief.

My Gods and Goddesses aren’t perfect, which makes it easier to love Them and understand Them. They don’t require me to be perfect, but They do require that I live my faith—not simply utter prayers and make offerings, but to actually take the lessons and apply them to my self and my life. (Some days, I’d really rather just pay to build a temple and not consider my actions or their consequences—but money is no substitute for action, and one cannot buy enlightenment or self-improvement, no matter how much some new age-type authors might wish us to believe otherwise.)

Some days, I can face myself and say “this thing is good, and this other thing is better than it was, and this thing over here needs so.much.work.” Some days, I don’t want to face any of it—not the good, and especially not the bad/difficult/shadow parts of myself. But if I’m going to declare myself a person of belief, then I need to live that belief, even when it is inconvenient, uncomfortable, or flat-out terrifying. If I don’t bring my whole self to my practice, my practice is incomplete, which is disrespectful to my Gods and Goddesses, and disrespectful to my own soul.

And that’s why it’s called a spiritual practice. We have to practice thinking and acting in the right manner in order to learn the habit, and then practice more in order for the habit to become a reflex. One day, I would like to be able to look at my thoughts and see that the reflex is consistently one of compassion, rather than judgment; that the reflex is one of calm confidence, rather than self-doubt and fear of failure. I will get there, possibly even in this lifetime.

Practice makes perfect, and I have such a long way to go. All I can do is keep going, and keep practicing.

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