The possibility of not being perfect


Sometimes life isn’t perfect. Sometimes life just is and that’s enough.”
A Journey to Peace through Yoga
Lynnette Dickinson.

Surrender to what is and what follows is joy.”
A Journey to Peace through Yoga
Lynnette Dickinson.

I wrote these two quotes just over seven years ago, in the closing stages of writing my book, and they remain the deepest lessons of my journey with chronic illness and life, generally. Yet even after the revelations I shared in my book, the pursuit of perfection and my shortfall has remained a constant theme in my life, until recently.

A couple of weeks ago I created the possibility of “not being perfect”, and it began a domino effect that has returned my attention to these two statements. The difference this time was paying attention to the question “what was I making wrong?”, and the subsequent question, “what if it wasn’t wrong?”

As I sat in the aeroplane feeling the symptoms of an oncoming MS exacerbation on my way to a skiing holiday, and I found the tension in my body and my mind. I relaxed my breathing and watched, allowing what was there to be revealed, with the question of what was I making wrong.

I saw the pride I had felt in the past when I had flown without getting an MS exacerbation. I also the saw the quiet hidden battle I had been internally waging to be well, to seem well. Underneath the emotions of pride and tension I noticed a cell of MS fear. I noticed the objections to this fear, ‘but I thought I had dealt with that’, I shouldn’t be feeling that’. I noticed the pressure this created within my being.

I noticed the feeling of being a burden, to my partner, my children and my family. I also noticed the accompanying push I felt to compensate for being a burden. I noticed the pressure this created for myself and the environment of stress it created for the people close to me, the reactions that were unexplainable to those who didn’t know the battle I was waging.

I noticed that I was subtly making my whole experience of MS, wrong. I was doing an admirable job of ‘trying’ and ‘managing’, using my tools of meditation and acceptance to maintain a level of peacefulness, while experiencing the inner tension of ‘wrong’.

So, what if it was all ‘not wrong’? well, for a start I could see the emotions and reactions and the fear. Like hiding children, who think they have done something wrong, my reactions started to come out of hiding when they realised they weren’t wrong.

Once they were out of hiding I could hold the fear and tension in loving compassion, and the tension melted away.

And then with the clouds of reaction cleared away there was a fact of scars on my brain consistent with a demyelinating process and the symptoms associated with these scars. This physical fact was just sitting there with no meaning or emotion. What if MS wasn’t wrong?

Another wave of relief and relaxation washed over my mind. Yes, it creates considerations and management but if it wasn’t wrong it just sat in the realm of project management, not suffering. My survival is not heroic but project management. X happens, we have these choices, we choose this one and y happens.

What if I am not a burden? What if it is just something my partner and I manage, together? What if my children and my siblings have the experience they have, and I offer love not compensation? Well, so far what happens is ease and laughter, perhaps even joy.

In practical terms on the aeroplane en-route to a NZ skiing holiday, this involved speaking to the staff, arranging a wheelchair for Queenstown and adjusting skiing expectations – I may or may not ski this week, I may not even walk. I accept all assistance offered, we negotiate customs, luggage and car hire, and drive to our accommodation, all with ease and laughter. No embarrassment or face saving, just what is. Not perfect, not wrong - Facts not suffering. And such a relief.

So, back to the beginning and the quotes I wrote seven years ago, with quiet awareness of the things we make wrong, compassion for the things we have made wrong and the knowledge of the possibilities of not wrong.

Imagine what would be possible if we approached the problems of our lives and our societies with the possibilities of ‘not perfect, compassion, not wrong’.

Practically, we might be able to approach criminal justice from the perspective of compassion and rehabilitation. We might be able to approach education, health, mental health and trauma with ‘is’, rather than not perfect or wrong. Our solutions can be pragmatic, rather than reactionary and loaded with suffering.

Emotionally, we might be able to bathe ourselves and each other with compassion. The result might just be bubbles of peace and joy, the lived expressions of love.

Lynnette Dickinson is the author of A Journey to Peace through Yoga, and teaches yoga, relaxation and meditation in Canberra and via Skype or phone. Classes, personalised programs and yoga therapy. Visit www.splendouryoga.com. Listen to Lynnette telling her story click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2, and be inspired.



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