Monday, June 18, 2012

Beautiful Imperfection, Reprise

I'm working on a book review.  The book is compelling and beautiful and flawed and messy.  One of the things I loved about this book is that the writer just will not be hurried in telling his story.  He breathes real life into his characters, infuses the sentences with the drama of their interactions, moves the story forward in the slow sweet time that it takes to unfurl.  And his confidence and skill keep the reader engaged, and reading, and eager to find the next gem of language or image or exciting plot turn.  I'm contrasting that against writers I know who can't believe that a reader might actually stay with the story, so feel compelled to sell, sell, sell their work.  Offer it up and then sit back, I want to say to these writers.  Breathe a moment, and let the reader find your work and discover the wonders in the pages.  

Once again I'm reminded that reading and writing teaches me how to live.  

To live well is to live fully in the moment, stay in *this* moment, and stop trying to anticipate what the next turn or twist will be.  If this moment is a beautiful one - bask in it.  If it is a difficult one, then gather your strength and march on through.  But don't waste your life wishing for the next great thing, or hurrying through today's imperfection to get to an imagined better tomorrow.  It doesn't work, and we soon grow numb not only to the difficulties of today, but to the beauty that is all around us, all the beautiful imperfections of our lives.

Many of you will know that I have been working on my own beautiful imperfection this year.  I'm interested in the bombardment of messages about body image in our lives, especially for women of a certain age, of a certain size, in America.  It's a tough one for me - I have been heavy (I am still heavy!), and I know the biting discomfort of feeling judged for your waist size.  For me, size is not a determinant of worth as a person, of value as a human.  But I have to be honest and say that I feel better when my body is a strong and healthy version of itself.  It is simply easier to achieve strength and health when weight is within a rock toss of what the weight charts say is healthy.  So this year I'm remembering that I feel most beautiful in motion, in activity, in the simple joyous experience of moving my body through water, dancing across an open space, biking along a river or up a hill.  As I recall, before I fell off the wagon as a runner to become a caregiver, I even felt beautiful right after running.  There are limits, for hell's sake - it's gonna take some sort of moratorium on gravitational pull before I feel beautiful running.

Thus I am working on my body, and on my weight.  In doing so, I'm once again confronting my habit of delaying life while waiting for perfection to happen.  Or, to be more accurate, while trying to engineer perfection.  This means that while I'm waiting for (or trying to engineer) the perfect time, the perfect moment, the perfect me, the perfect weather - life happens.  Some of you will want to write me and say "No, no, you're being too hard on yourself..."  Shhh - I'm not.  I'm not scolding myself, I'm acknowledging that this is a habit of thinking that gets in the way of my living.  It gets in the way of me having all the joy and love that my life might otherwise hold.  I'm trying hard to jettison that habit.  And if you're reading this and you feel a twinge of familiarity, join me.  

So despite the fact that I'm still gloriously, beautifully imperfect, I drove my trusty Explorer across Oregon, loaded with women and dance gear, and competed with my belly dance troupe.  Wearing, I kid you not, sequins, glitter nail polish and hair extensions.  It was the girliest thing I have ever done, and it was scary and pretty damned fun.   

Here's to road trips and weekend adventures, to dancing on stages and kitchens and backyards, to impromptu bbq's, bike rides and lazy hours on patios and decks drinking the libation of one's choice. Here is to all the life we can fit into each day, and all the laughter, love and joy we can find on our journey.

Best to all who happen this way!