“My life isn’t perfect, but I am grateful.” (Unknown) – from a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.
One can take this as it is and do a riff on how we should be grateful just to be alive, and I am, by the way. However; one could mentally substitute the word “and” in place of the word “but” and launch off on a whole different take on things, which of course is what I’m going to do.
As I get older the original meaning of this little saying becomes more important to me. Each new day is a gift of more time here with friends and family and the other things (not necessarily possessions) that I have had the time to grow to appreciate. The extra time also is more enjoyable because I have come to realize that what makes like so interesting and precious is the fact that it’s not perfect and that dealing with those imperfections requires attention, creativity and problem solving skills. Out of the need to deal with the imperfections of life come adventure, excitement, and passion.
Almost everything that happens to us in life somehow involves another human being – someone who did something or didn’t do something that caused a problem or elicits a reaction. Of course there are calamities (imperfections on a large scale) that are caused not by people, but rather by nature – storms and floods and earthquakes and such. And sometimes the things that we count on in life just break or stop working and that can be an annoying imperfection in life.
However, the real gut-wrenching imperfections tend to involve relationships with other people. Dealing with natural calamities or the happenstance of the stuff around us not working as it should is at least more straightforward – it is what it is and we have to deal with it. The imperfections that are caused by strained or failed relationships are a bit harder to deal with, mainly because we must have played some role in whatever caused the riff, either through something that we did or didn’t do in our relationship with that other person. There is no way that we can duck the responsibility for having some role in this imperfection, unlike being able to say, “Oh well what are you going to do?” as we can with a major storm or an appliance that has stopped working.
So, how does that make life more interesting and why should you be grateful for those imperfections? It’s because it forces us to get outside ourselves, to acknowledge that we live in a society and not a cave by ourselves. Our world involves more than just meeting our own needs and our needs involve more than just staying alive. We are by nature social animals and like many other animals we seek others with which to share our lives. We don’t call our social connections or “pack”, but the concept is similar. Our inter dependencies with others in our “pack” are usually focused on more than just hunting and eating and more to do with feelings of self-worth and belonging.
Out of our need for social interaction come the imperfections in life that we must deal with and which keep life interesting. There is inevitable friction in every social “pack” – someone doesn’t like me, someone didn’t invite me to their party, I forgot to send a card to someone, someone is talking about me behind my back and on and on it goes. Sometimes just keeping all of the issues that are involved can be a mental exercise involving more work that solving the Sunday cross word puzzle I the paper. Then figuring out how to deal with these things, and what to say to whom; whether to try to help resolve these differences or just avoid getting in the middle of it is a decision process all of its own. It can keep you on your toes; but it sure isn’t boring and we should be grateful for that.
It is not really surprising when you think about it that “reality” shows have become so popular on TV. Reality is what we are used to living with and some of these shows do a fair job of mirroring the interesting things that we all know go on in real life. They are certainly easier to relate to than many of the drama or comedy shows. (as entertaining as they may be). What we supposedly see are real people gong about solving the real, everyday problems that we all might face; albeit many of the situations and people chosen may represent the extremes in life.
Many times in life and we get to the end of a crisis or situation we will say something like, “I’m glad that is over.” Few of us realize at the time that we might also be glad that whatever it was happened. We survived, we figured it out, we solved the puzzle and because of that we are stronger, wiser and better off. Life is full of imperfections small and large and dealing with them and learning from those experiences is what makes it worth living. And for that I’m grateful.