Monday Musings… Perfectly Imperfect
Have you ever had one of those days? You know, where you’re driving somewhere, maybe even a little behind schedule, but you hit every green light? I love those days.
As you’re driving, you’re thinking to yourself: “Is this really happening? Wow! I can’t believe it! Sailed through every intersection!” And you just have this huge smile on your face, in amazement that such good fortune could come your way. You feel on top of the world, believing that it’s going to be a fantastic day from here on in!
Well, I was ‘on top of the world’ on one of my most recent hikes. It was a great morning, crisp but not too cold; the leaves were starting to change; and I was with excellent company. Just being out in nature, especially since I’m confined to my home office pretty much 7 days a week right now prepping and marking, is just a perfect way to spend a couple of hours.
Or so I thought…
As we were rounding a bend in the trail, my friend in the lead scared some partridges out of the bush. These birds must have thought it was near Christmas, and had visions of sugar plums dancing round their head in the roast pan. They quickly took off from the ground (not their pear tree) and flew into the air with an incredible clatter! As they ascended into the sky, one soared right over my head, and in its distress, deposited his droppings onto my hat.
My perfect, stress relieving saunter through the hills, had literally become a crappy calamity.
Now, I try to think when things get messy in life, that some good can come from them. So, I reassuringly said to the group, that I was glad I took one for the team, especially since I was the only one wearing a hat. They congratulated me on my achievement, and then one of them asked if I was going to clean my hat off. I shrugged off the suggestion, telling them it might be easier to clean if I let the sun dry it out while we traversed the trail.
We trekked on for another kilometer or two, and I thought: “What kind of wisdom is that – to let the sun dehydrate the dung?” I mean that splat might shrivel in the summer, but this is fall. So, when they decided to stop for a snack, I figured I may as well use this opportunity to get this partridge poop off the brim of my hat – my favourite hat, nonetheless.
So, I gathered some leaves, and started scraping away the still-wet stool. It wasn’t easy let me tell you, but I kept at it. I must have used 10 good-sized leaves. And then one of them turns to me and says: “Do you know what kind of leaves those are?”
“No,” I replied, raising my eyebrows.
“Those are poison ivy leaves,” she calmly informed me.
Here I am stuck in the middle of the woods, with poop and possibly poison ivy all over my hands!
Nothing in my back pack was going to save my skin from that stupidity. So, the whole way back I’m thinking: “Don’t touch your face. Don’t touch your face.” I had visions of teaching online and looking like a Klingon warrior; although it would appropriately match my Starship Enterprise background, but since my face is the only thing my students have to stare at for 3 hours straight, it may be a little distracting. I tried to think of the positive again: It may help their attendance, but not their attention.
Why is it that in life, things can be going ‘perfectly’, and then in the next moment, well, turn out poopy? So many people strive for that perfect home, relationship, career, or GPA, but the reality is we live in a fallen world. You have to accept that. It’s not that you shouldn’t strive to do your best in your personal and professional lives, but know that you’re going to mess up, and things will happen that you have no control over that are going to leave a stain on your idyllic world.
The real test is not in what happens to you, but in how you respond to it. Do you look at the situation as an obstacle or an opportunity; as a setback or something to seek a solution for? Instead of sinking quickly into despair, can you stop, take breath, and put everything in context, and evaluate the actual (and not imagined) impact this has on you.
The lesson I think that I've learned about being imperfect, in an imperfect world, is that it constantly sharpens me to figure out a way to adapt. How can I change how I look at things? Is there anything I can do to fix the situation, knowing I have my own limitations? Often what you may think is the end of the world is not, even if at the time it feels that way.
After finishing the hike and heading home, I tossed my prized hat in the washing machine, by itself, and hoped it would get clean and sanitized. It was the best I could do. I read online of course to see about the incubation period for poison ivy: from 12 hours to three weeks. Thankfully, the time passed, and I remain Klingon free! Not sure how - but I'm not going to question it!
Imperfection is what unites us as humans. And that should keep us all humble. Sometimes our imperfections bring us to our knees. They may cause us to doubt, and wonder. But don't look at them in despair. This could be our wake-up call to pay attention and learn (like what poison ivy leaves look like 😊)
But it's also a reminder that there is only One who is perfect. He understands every single situation we find ourselves in. He's looking for us to recognize His goodness in those perfect days and seek His mercy in the imperfect ones. Let God be the air that you breathe and the comfort for your soul when your life is less than perfect.