Last week, as I was wrapping up class, one of my former students stopped in and asked if I had a minute. Sometimes, just the way a kid says these words makes your teacher spidey sense kick in, and you know to drop everything else.
We stepped into the office as my class packed up, and this usually upbeat student unleashed a mountain of anxiety and stress. He is a performer, and had a show coming up. Long story short… the deadline was looming and he just didn’t feel like he was where he wanted to be. To him, this translated to meaning that he was not good enough and man, was he rattled.
I can’t tell you how honored I feel when a kid comes to me like this. There is so much trust and bravery in it, and I feel such gratitude toward the kiddo for opening up and such responsibility to do right by them.
I took a deep breath, mostly to sort through my thoughts and what I wanted to say.
And then, I fumbled along…I reminded the kiddo that he is an artist. That art, like life, is messy and imperfect. That life and learning doesn’t go in a straight line, and that we can’t expect to reach perfection… ever… because that implies there is nothing left to learn. That the best thing we can do for ourselves and our passions is to embrace the imperfection.
He looked at me and repeated slowly, nodding…. “Embrace the Imperfection.”
When a kiddo does that, you know you said something they needed to hear.
And yet, as he repeated it back to me, I realized that it was exactly what I need to hear as well.
It’s been a difficult and also remarkable year for me. Discovering this new lifestyle of simplicity and minimalism has been a game changer in such amazing ways. Writing this blog has helped me focus and helped me heal. And yet, I have these moments where I look around and realize I have so far to go, so much to learn, and so much I want to do! Sometimes I look at all the areas of the house that are still chaotic, or that need a second or third (or fourth) round of decluttering, and I get discouraged. I have books I want to read, lessons I want to improve, and people I want to connect with.
And on the grieving side, I have times when I know I have made progress and then a single song or photo or memory will derail me for days.
So having this kiddo look into my eyes and say to me, “Embrace the Imperfection…” well, I think it was no coincidence that that phrase popped into my head. We both needed to hear it.
There is a reason I named this blog “Crooked Path to Simple.” “Crooked” wasn’t meant to be a lamentation… it was my acknowledgment that the paths we take in life are not straight lines. They bend and curve, and sometimes even double back. There are rocky areas, and plateaus, and inclines so steep you have to climb them on bloody hands and knees. The thing is… it’s all part of the journey, and the sooner you embrace the journey, the sooner you can get on living a life of gratitude, even during the rough times.
So I am going to find that student next week and thank him for coming to me and working together to figure out what we both needed to hear…that we are not in a race to perfection in this life, we are on a beautiful journey, and we are happiest when we do our best to embrace all aspects of that journey.
I don’t need to be anywhere other than exactly where I am… with my house, my grief, my life. Neither do you. And as my dad used to say, “90% of life is just showin’ up.”
So, as crooked as my journey may be, I am going to keep living and learning with all the gratitude and awe I can muster… to me, that’s showing up.