Sunday, December 10, 2006

You don't have to be perfect!

This is an excerpt from an article by Harold Kushner that appeared in the February 1998 issue of Reader's Digest. I was re-reading the issue today when I thought I must post this on my blog. I hope publishing the excerpt in my blog qualifies as "fair use". Frankly, if it doesn't, I don't care, because such a lovely message should reach more and more people irrespective of copyright restrictions! Wish people will copyleft such beautiful articles.

Life is not a trap set for us by God to catch and condemn us for failing. Life is not a spelling test, where no matter how many words you've got right, you are disqualified if you make one mistake. Life is more like a football league, where even the best team loses some of its games and even the worst team has its day of brilliance. Our goal is to win more games than we lose.

When we accept that imperfection is part of being human, and when we continue rolling through life and appreciating it, we will have achieved a wholeness that others can only aspire to do. That, I believe is what God asks of us - not "Be Perfect", not "Don't ever make a mistake", but "Be whole".

And at the end, if we are brave enough to love, strong enough to forgive, generous enough to rejoice in another's happiness and wise enough to know there is enough love to go around for us all, then we can achieve a fulfilment no other living creature will ever know.

We can re-enter paradise.

The Wholeness of Being

I took my test from a little book called "The Missing Piece" by Shel Silverstein which I can describe only as being a fairy tale for adults. It tells the story of a circle that was missing a piece. A large triangular wedge had been cut out of it. The circle wanted to be whole with nothing missing, so it went around looking for the missing piece. But because it was incomplete and therefore could roll only very slowly, it admired the flowers along the way; it chatted with worms; it enjoyed the sunshine. It found lots of different pieces but none of them fit. So, it kept searching.

Then, one day, the circle found a piece that fit perfectly. It was so happy. Now, it could be whole, with nothing missing. It incorporated the missing piece into itself and began to roll. Now that it was a perfect circle, it could roll fast, too fast to notice the flowers or talk to the worms. When it realised how different the World seemed when it rolled quickly, it stopped, left its new-found piece by the side of the road and rolled slowly away!

The lesson of the story was that in some strange way, we are more whole when we are missing something. The man who has everything is in some ways poor. He will never know what it feels like to yearn, to hope, to nourish his soul with the dream of something better. He will never have the experience of having someone who loves him give him something he always wanted but never had.
I couldn't agree more! A person who has everything will never understand the real worth of friends, family and the people who love them. They will never know the experience of fear, longing, hope and even disappointment, which ultimately make the good things in life seem pronounced and more valuable than ever. Today, on reading this article for the umpteenth time, I resolved to be whole, rather than perfect! You wanna dare to make that resolution too?