Wednesday, October 1, 2014
The Boxes In Our Lives Labeled, "ART"
A little over a month ago, I was in my room, thinking about my life (I do that kind of a lot), and I was feeling very content with who I was, and who I was becoming. I had for many years thought that I must try harder in order to be good enough; good enough for me; good enough for God; and at the same time, be the person that others needed/ expected me to be. In my mind, I wasn't good enough; for me, or for God; and I was tired (literally) of being the person others needed/expected me to be. I take credit for that because I allowed it to happen. I unknowingly allowed myself to get to a place over time, where I didn't know who I was. What I did know, was that I was trying reach good enough. I may or may not have been good enough for other people; in my mind I wasn't. I was trying to be good enough for God, and yet, never reaching good enough for God. I had allowed others to depend on me, and I didn't know how to change things without completely rocking the boat...no, completely flipping the boat over, in those relationships. And I thought that by doing so, the message I would be sending was that I didn't love these people. I DID/DO love these people, so I was trapped, keeping the seas calm on the outside for the benefit of others, while waves were crashing on the inside. I thought it was my responsibility to...I could say a lot of things...be the steady foundation, the rock, the glue that held things together; even things that were not my doing, but for which I felt responsible to hold together.
Then last year I came to realize that it IS within me to completely flip the boat over; and it needed to be done if I was ever going to change the way I interacted with people. I learned that I DO matter, that I AM good enough, FOR EVEN GOD! And if I am good enough for God, then I am good enough for myself, and what other people think doesn't matter! I realized it was not my responsibility to take care of other people in ways that were not healthy for myself. I learned that I CAN, and NEEDED to take action that was self-based. I needed to take care of myself first, mentally emotionally, physically, spiritually.
Over the course of the past year and a half, that is what I have done. I have taken charge of my life; I flipped the boat and changed for the mucho mejor, certain relationships, I have set boundaries with them, and others. My life is SO much different now than it was 2 years ago, and SO much better! I have also been learning during this same time, who I am; what I like, what I don't, what I want, who I am, and who I can become. I realize that my potential is much more than I currently am, and that is a beautiful thought.
This brings me back to where I started. A little over a month ago, I was sitting in my room, thinking about my life, particularly where I had been, and came from over the past year and a half; and where I currently was. I was happy; with my life; with the progress I had made, and that I was presently making. As I looked around at my room, my bed was unmade, there were a few shirts, a book, my phone, and a couple pillows on top. My scriptures were on the floor, along with 2 boxes of other books I hadn't decided where to put, even after 5 months, and some shoes. My computer desk had papers on it, fingernail clippers, a starburst from a friend, my glasses, and some pens. My room was not spotless, neither was it a complete disaster. What it was, was beautiful. Why? Because the unmade bed, with the shirts, book, my phone, and the pillows, along with my desk, and the floor, were...are you ready for this?... allowing me to be me. Everything in my room, exactly how it was at that moment, and at any other moment, is there to support the life that I live. No one else's room looks like mine, which makes it unique. To me, it WAS beautiful. It was completely mine, and I accepted every aspect of it. I was very content!
Shortly after that experience, like 30 minutes later, I was reading in a book called, Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown. A portion of that book talks about perfection. For all those previous years I thought I wasn't good enough because I wasn't perfect. Over the past year and a half I have come to be grateful that I am not perfect. It's way to hard to try to be. What I CAN be is any amount better than I was yesterday. It's not about perfection, it's about progression, and progression is progression. Now, I CAN be perfect through the atonement, and that is our purpose in life; to be perfect, even as He is perfect, which is possible through the atonement. The atonement is SO amazing, that it even covers our imperfection in using the atonement, mind blowing, I know!! Anyway, back to the book, and my whole point in writing this blog post. A re-cap, 30 minutes later, after looking around at my awesome room, I'm reading in this book...Ok. I read this, which I can't even explain how I felt afterwords, because it fit "perfect"ly with the experience I had just had in my room. Brene quotes Nicholas Wilton, the illustrator of one of her earlier books:
"I always felt that someone, a long time ago, organized the affairs of the world into areas that made sense--categories of stuff that is perfectible, things that fit nearly in perfect bundles. The world of business, for example, is this way--line items, spreadsheets, things that add up, that can be perfected. The legal system--not always perfect, but nonetheless a mind-numbing effort to actually write down all kinds of laws and instructions that cover all aspects of being human, a kind of umbrella code of conduct we should all follow.
Perfection is crucial in building an aircraft, a bridge, or a high-speed train. The code and mathematics residing just below the surface of the Internet is also this way. Things are either perfectly right or they will not work. So much of the world we work and live in is based upon being correct, being perfect.
But after this someone got through organizing everything just perfectly, he (or probably she) was left with a bunch of stuff that didn't fit anywhere--things in a shoe box that had to go somewhere.
So in desperation this person threw up her arms and said, 'ok! Fine. All the rest of this stuff that isn't perfectible, that doesn't seem to fit anywhere else, will just have to be piled into this last, rather large tattered box that we can sort of push behind the couch. Maybe later we can come back and figure where it all is supposed to fit in. Let's label the box ART'
The problem thankfully was never fixed, and in time the box overflowed as more and more art piled up. I think the dilemma exists because art, among all the other tidy categories, most closely resembles what it is like to be human. To be alive. It is our nature to be imperfect. To have uncategorized feelings and emotions. To make or do things that don't sometimes necessarily make sense.
Art is just perfectly imperfect.
Once the word Art enters the description of what you're up to, it is almost like getting a hall pass from perfection. It thankfully releases us from any expectation of perfection.
In relation to my own work not being perfect, I just always point to the tattered box behind the couch and mention the word, Art, and people seem to understand and let you off the hook about being perfect and go back to their business."
This really did completely confirm that my life is basically art; and it's acceptable, it's a masterpiece!! There are pieces of my life that I don't yet know what to do with, that does not mean in any way that I can't make progress in the areas that I do know something about. Neither does it mean that I am a failure, because I can pull things out of my box labeled Art, at any time, and see if they fit somewhere. If so, fantastic, if not, I'll put it back for a while. What it does mean, to me, is that the possessions in my life, my bed, my car, my computer, and everything else "my", are part of my life and have the purpose of serving me in the creating of my life masterpiece, which is the growth and development of my person. I am not to serve the possessions in my life; take care of them, yes, but serve, no. They are to serve me, and I am to serve others. The definitions of art can be as numerable as there are people to define it, which is fantastic, because it means that my art, IS perfect.