There are many states in the physical realm. Consider water. Water can be fluid in a liquid state. When water molecules slow down, water transforms into solid, becomes ice. When water molecules speed up, water transforms into vapor, becomes steam. Bruce Lee said, “Now, water can flow or it can crash… Be water, my friend.” We also have many states. Perhaps, like water, we can flow or we can crash.
The late Claire Wineland, the Cystic Fibrosis humanitarian activist, said that many of us want to find happiness in life. She said, “That’s bullshit…” Rather, Claire meant that the exclusive search for happiness can be misguided, if not inauthentic. Happiness distinguishes a physiological state induced by dopamine in our brain. Is happiness entirely a chemical state? Maybe.
Claire said, “Have your life be a piece of art. Have a life that you’re proud of.” Claire passed away from complications following lung transplant surgery for her Cystic Fibrosis decline. She was only 21 years old, yet wise and transcendent beyond her years. Rest in peace sweet Claire, “and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
Can we generate our lives as our Work of Art? Can we invent the life that we’re proud of? Just asking. What makes life unique, what authentically defines us are our imperfections.
Cheryl Hunter taught me the value of the Japanese aesthetic wabi-sabi: There is beauty in our imperfection. Cheryl said, “Life is imperfectly perfect.” That’s meaningful coming from Cheryl. As a teenager, she endured tremendous tragedy. Yet, she forgave the unforgivable, ground it out, reinvented her greater-than version, and powerfully emerged on the other side. Cheryl makes a profound difference in the world, assisting others to heal their personal trauma and to express their voices in the world. Cheryl is the kindest, bravest, and funnest person I know on Planet Earth. Nothing, but mad love and respect to Cheryl.
I endured my own childhood abuse. Dad scared the hell out of me when I was growing up. My childhood wasn’t perfect, by any measure. As a young boy, I distinctly got imperfect. I was imperfect. I was broken. I simply wasn’t good enough.
At 7 years old, I got that I wasn’t what Dad wanted. I wasn’t perfect. My condemnation. I thought that I had to be perfect to win Dad’s approval, have his love. My impossible life sentence. Consequently, I continually strived to be perfect, not knowing any better. I was the terrified kid who hated on myself. I got really good at that, too.
Out of survival, I invented my binary world: black and white; right and wrong; good and bad. Extremes. No balance. No Yin and Yang. That wasn’t at all sustainable.
Fortunately, the universe intervened. Mizukami Sensei taught me Aikido and what it is to be a good man. Sensei became the Father I needed to become the greater man. He didn’t care about perfect. Sensei didn’t ask me to be like him. He said, “Make it (Aikido) work.” I make it work for me. I make my life work, too.
Practicing the Aikido technique for tsuki (striking attacks), Sensei said, “Wait it out. Take a glancing blow if you have to. It’s one time. You’re not going to get away scot-free.” No attack is perfect. No technique is perfect. They’re all messy. Life is messy, too.
When life comes at me, I take the glancing blows. I’m imperfect. Yet, I make life work.
Many years ago, a student watched Aikido Founder O-Sensei demonstrate his technique. Afterward, he asked O-Sensei, how is it that he never loses his balance? O-Sensei said, “I’m constantly losing my balance. My skill lies in my ability to regain it.”
In life, I constantly lose my balance. That could be working on my depression with my Therapist, Lance. That could be the callous rejection of women on Match dot com. We have many states: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, whatever. I regain my balance in those states. Then I move on to what’s next.
I can be happy. I can be sad, I can be afraid. I regain my balance in each state. I wait it out. I match up, let it pass, and move on. Bruce Lee said, “Be water, my friend.” Mizukami Sensei said, “Take a glancing blow if you have to. It’s one time.” I regain my balance in my imperfection. Sensei said, “Everything is natural. It’s like taking a walk in the park.” Yet making the unnatural natural requires practice. Just train.
What about the imperfection that we distinguish in others? In my trials and tribulations, I get that the imperfections that annoy me most about others are my own imperfections. When I despise arrogance in others, that’s really on me. What I work on next. I regain my balance in life.
In Aikido, Ishibashi Sensei reminds, “Apply the technique to yourself.” I work on my imperfection, not on others’ imperfections. Anyway, they might be the same. Just saying.
Cheryl Hunter said, “Life is imperfectly perfect.” I’m imperfectly perfect, too. Heaven is right where I stand, so have nothing to prove. I choose whether to work on my imperfections or let them be.
In the Japanese aesthetic wabi-sabi: There is beauty in our imperfection. We regain balance in life’s imperfection, and our very own. Just saying.
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