But only always.
Life keeps trying to teach me that perfection is not only a dream, but oftentimes a trap. (Even worse, idea of “perfect” is a weapon that we can use against ourselves quite brutally) Yet I still try. I want everything to work out for the best, and I want everyone to be happy, and I never want to make mistakes.
Even though I should know better by now, I still seem haunted by this idea that somehow — if I just try harder and get smarter by the day — I can figure out a way to always make everything turn out just right.
The perfected life is impossible to achieve.
You might want to just go ahead and forgive yourself in advance for that.
Because sometimes things happen that we cannot control.
Other people make choices that we cannot comprehend.
Destiny’s randomness plays crazy-ass games with our lives.
And sometimes we ourselves simply blow it — no matter how high our intentions.
That’s where self-forgiveness needs to come in.
I was thinking about this the other night when I was watching the documentary I’M YOUR MAN — about the great musician Leonard Cohen, whom I consider one of the most important poets (and sages) of our time.
Cohen had these three wise things to say about failure, about letting go of the dream of a perfected life, and about how to stand up again after a disaster:
1) “There is a feeling we have sometimes of betraying some mission that we were mandated to fulfill, and being unable to fulfill it. And then coming to understand that the real mandate was NOT to fulfill it. And that the deeper courage was to stand guiltless in the predicament in which you find yourself.”
2) “Sometimes when you no longer see yourself as the hero of your own drama, expecting victory after victory, you understand deeply that this is not paradise. Somehow we – especially the privileged ones – have somehow embraced the notion that this vale of tears is perfectible. That you’re gonna get it all straight. I found that things became a lot easier when I no longer expected to win.”
3) “You’ll never untangle the circumstances that brought you to this moment. But you are a warrior. Arise now, like a warrior. You are caught up in circumstances that God determined for you. Stand up and do your duty.”
Such beautiful words of self-forgiveness!
The truth is that sometimes we find ourselves standing in predicaments that we simply cannot fix or untangle — or even begin to understand.
Sometimes we caused those predicaments; sometimes they were inflicted upon us; sometimes it’s a mixture of both.
Sometimes, nothing can be done but to forgive ourselves for our own hopeless predicament (which invariably leads us to forgive others for THEIR hopeless predicaments) and then…arise.
Forgive, arise, and try again — humbled, but wiser