A few weeks ago, someone asked me, ‘what is your perfect life?’ The idea being that if I could name it, I could pray for it and perhaps manifest it. It seemed a simple enough question. My immediate answer was that the earth and its various inhabitants are safe and people are conscious. That we live in a world where we each truly see and honor each other – a world of ‘I-Thou’ as Martin Buber would say. That’s the main thing I wish for. Not ‘I-it.’ No big companies displacing natives, no polar bears starving to death. No puppies found in garbage dumps. None of it.
Can’t we have that?
But as I toyed with the idea of my perfect life, I began to feel tension deep in my gut. I felt ‘caught.’ Something had got me. What was it?
As I wrestled with my thoughts, I kept coming back to my ‘actual’ life. Not the perfect life I could imagine or fantasize about, but the actual life I have lived. That life. That life hasn’t always been pretty. That life with its wounds, pain, disappointments and mis-events. That life with it’s lessons and joys. That life with the beings I’ve loved and the experiences I’ve had. My life.
Does the ‘perfect life’ invalidate my actual life? Could I have lived without the disappointments and heartbreaks that all of us and I have suffered? I know that each of these ‘misevents’ caused me to step up or develop some part of myself. But that doesn’t fix my dilemma. Am I a victim to these events – or somehow integral to their unfolding?
I don’t want to say that the idea of a ‘perfect’ life is meaningless. It is not. But I don’t want to invalidate the life I have lived either.
Recently I began an ecstatic (and very short) meditation for the beings that remain in the Fukushima area and are suffering. Ecstatic is not even remotely the right word. The meditation is intended to be a meditation of ecstasy, joy, gratitude and appreciation, and as such, a sending of those spiritual resources to those who are in need of them.
I am sure that is not what I feel. I feel some sense of gratitude and appreciation, but I also feel sensory experiences of icy cold and burning ash, and an intense sense of desolation and grief. All of this is mixed together. Is it real in the objective world? That doesn’t matter to me, for the experience I am having is real.
The practice of this meditation is also a magical and familiar experience. I feel grief and pain. I also experience myself sending love to that grief and pain. I feel myself able to make a contribution – however small. I am witnessing that suffering with love. Isn’t that what suffering cries for most? To be seen with love? To be cared about? To not be forgotten or overlooked?
I realized I have done this much of my life. Sent caring to those whose hurt and suffering I was aware of in my life as well as the hurt, suffering and forgotten parts of myself – in hopes of relieving that suffering. That process is valuable and part of my actual life – not my perfect life. In my perfect life, it isn’t needed.
My life work is the work of a weaver. I look at the damaged and incomplete cloth of myself and I weave new material, new patterns and new designs. I take the past and reweave it in the present, and send out into the future a new weave.
I see and celebrate beautiful weaving all around me by other weavers. Out of brokenness beauty is created. Yet, as we weave, new tears, rips and continued destruction occurs. Weave, weave, weave I say. Breathe love and life onto this cloth so we may experience joy and love. I cheer us onward. What other work is there?
I have a wonderful life – but it is not a perfect life. I have been led out into the life I have by my abilities and wounds. I have created my actual life to repair what did not function fully. In a sense, I have woven my wonderful life out of the weaknesses that I did not want to be hampered by. The process of repair became my life itself. It has not been what I expected or what I imagined my life would be.
If I were not wounded, would I have been someone who learned to recreate myself, someone who helped others? And yet, I long for a perfect life where this is not necessary. I long for a world without pain and damage, without loss and grief.
This is the rub. Is there a perfect life that is different from my actual life? What is it? Is it real? There is perfection to my life albeit sometimes awful. I am constantly bombarded not just by suffering, but also by beauty, courage and wisdom. How would I have become who I am without walking the path I walked? Is there a different place to be? Is there a different role for me?
When I felt lost and alone in my childhood (for example) I was aware of the light of others coming into my life. Emerson, one of my favorite writers when I was a teenager brought clarity and understanding into my world (despite having been dead for ninety years before I found him). And the animals and pets on the farm: the horses, goats, chickens, ducks, cats and dogs all brought love into my life. I became aware of other dimensions that could nourish and help to sustain me (as I hope to do in my Fukushima meditation). As I look back at that time, I see my understanding of creating through time and dimension. I was never as alone as I felt. Other weavers left me visions to follow so that I would not be so lost. They allowed me more possibility. Their visioning, their striving towards their own perfection entered into my life and opened it up.
It is here my actual life and the perfect life come together. My actual life is as perfect as it can be given the context it takes place in. My actual life is perfect because it enables me to learn and grow and make choices. But, the perfect life isn’t a place. It is a process. Just as my actual life is a process of working with what is, my perfect life is a process of dreaming and visioning, and allowing my actual life to follow that dream. They work together. They weave together.
I am somehow part of this complexity called life. I am part of my cat friend Hank who nurtured me the way only a cat can. I am part of the relationships that make me wrestle with current conflicts. I am part of the dream of a beautiful future. I am part of it, I am caught in it and I am a weaver within it.
I continue to weave what is, into what will be, onward and evermore as the path softens and smoothes. My actual life is my feet under me, propelling me forward, entwined with the perfection of the dream, into the future. It is the journey of imagining myself forward. It is I hope, a continuing journey to a more and more perfect life.
As I begin to pray for my perfect life, I pray for all of us as we weave together. I pray we weave a world of consciousness and love. I pray, for goodness, and peace. I pray for awareness and big hearts. I pray that we protect our home mother earth and all the beings upon it and within it. I pray that we remember we are part of multitudes of beings, each who is important and of value. I pray that we release our ways that cause suffering for others and ourselves. I pray that those who are suffering be released from their pain. I pray that we become beings of wisdom.
I have transformed over the years. I am more fulfilled, less anxious, less neurotic, more generous, less afraid and more joyous. If I can do this, cannot we all? If we all do this, cannot our earth and world become a more perfect place? Cannot we take the work of the actual and hold the vision of the perfect and start to weave?
This is a place of magic and we are magicians. My healing meditation allows me to be aware of magic and synchronicities and sending love through time and space. It is from this open place that unexpected results can fall into place. Our actual lives become more and more perfect. We can create an ever more perfect life and an ever more perfect world.
As I pray for this perfect life, I also love the life I have. I send out into the world a vision and a light. I am not invalidating what has been so much as asking that with each step forward the weave becomes ever more beautiful and joyous. And I thank each of us. Thank you for your part in this.
What a beautiful description of the interweaving of all the facets of life. Thank you.
Some Eastern practices talk about everything being perfect, even those things that are uncomfortable. I still vividly remember a discussion decades ago when a friend told me my life was perfect – in a Zen sense. I pushed back and we discussed for hours, then it hit me… my life was perfect and whole, in that moment and continues to be in every moment, because as you say–every experience brought me here, to who I am, and that is perfect, and so are you.
so, yes, i think you are saying that perfect = whole. love this article; love your work; love you! happy new year, sister weaver!