When I was ten years old, my brother had a sign like this stuck on his bedroom door. And every time he saw me glance at it, he’d be sure to tell me, ”You aren’t one of us”. At that time in my life, surrounded by a lot of rejection and painful circumstances, it hurt… and it was one of those hurts that I carried with me into my adult life.
It’s only now that I can laugh at it when I think about it, because I realise that his intention was to be funny, and not to add more pain to my life. It’s just his sense of humour!
This same brother (I have two who are much older than me, and he is the younger of the two) gave me something else to carry into my adult life, which has actually been quite valuable.
Between the ages of 17 and 19, this brother spent a lot of his spare time with his music blaring, and either a Scrabble board, or a large puzzle on a board, on his bed. The love for Scrabble was thanks to our grandparents, and he and I were the only two in our extended family who grew to love it so much that we’d play against ourselves for hours! Would you believe, we never played a game together, even though we lived in the same house!
But that’s not what I wanted to tell you about…. I wanted to tell you about his puzzle!
He had a beautiful puzzle, a seemingly deserted island, with two palm trees and a hammock; blue seas and a sunlit sky. When he had finished building it on his large piece of firm cardboard, he grabbed his glue, and patiently (I think it’s one of the few time I remember him being patient 😛 ) stuck the individual pieces to the card. But he left one off! Right in the middle of the puzzle! And then in the space at the bottom of the sheet, he wrote these words :
Even paradise isn’t perfect!
I saw it stuck up on his wall a few days later, and commented, ”Well, that’s just dumb. You left a piece off. It’s ruined!”
I will never forget his reply!
”Nothing, and no one, is perfect. And if you think something is ruined just because it isn’t perfect, you’ll be miserable!”
I’ll admit that I have not always applied those words! But here’s what I have learnt along the way :
Yes, it is good to have expectations of things and people; to know limits and forge forward. But when we are pushed to the limit, or our expectations are not met, it is important to focus on acceptance, instead of disappointment.
Wait, what? Are you saying I am not allowed to be disappointed?
Nope! Not at all!
Feeling is equally as important as doing. In fact, it’s usually how we feel that determines what we do next.
In small moments of disappointment, it is easy for me to ‘get over it and move on’. When disappointments are great, it’s a lot harder! And sometimes take a lot longer to ‘get over’. When the tears roll down my cheeks and I feel every bit of that disappointment weighing heavy on me both physically and emotionally, I let myself feel it. I don’t even question it. I just go with it. Sometimes it even makes me angry enough to scream into my pillow 😛 And my thoughts are sometimes not even very pleasant either!
But I don’t stay there.
After a few minutes, I tell myself, ”Well, girl, even paradise isn’t perfect. Stop expecting everything else to be!”
And sometimes it’s a temporary fix, that just helps me get through the rest of that day! Some things are so overwhelming that they rear their ugly heads over and over, at the most inconvenient times!
So I become a shampoo bottle! Lather (let myself feel it), rinse (remind myself about the reality of imperfection) and repeat if desired (the next time it comes along)! 😉
When I think of that puzzle now, even though there was a piece missing, I could still see the hammock, the palm trees, the blue sea, the sunlit sky. It was no longer a perfectly finished puzzle, but it still had incredible beauty and elicited a feeling of peace and relaxation.
So here’s hoping that in your week ahead, even though it might be slightly disrupted and less than perfect, you will still be able to see some of the beauty and feel some of the peace! ❤