9th August, Thursday at 2.22pm my niece was born, and the only word that came to my mind when I held that little bundle in my hands was how perfect she is. It did not matter to me that her skin was blotchy or her hair patchy, that she could barely open her eyes and had wrinkled skin in places and a toothless mouth - as I held her I marveled at the miracle that was before my eyes. As various relatives began dissecting her every feature and wondering what came from whom and how the maalish waali needed to be instructed to scrub her baby hair off and shape her nose, all I could do was stare in wonder and love at this tiny, fully formed human being that was not even visible to us till an hour ago and yet already knew how to breathe and cry and yawn and feed.
And as the hours ticked by and I heard more off what others had to say, I realized how this very perfection was going to be molded and taught and dreamt for and expected off. This perfect miracle was going to be judged and made to feel unworthy unless she conformed to this, this and this and it made me wonder what this whole deal about perfection was.
The first thing that came to my mind was how these same so called imperfect features of this tiny baby on a grown man or woman would be seen as signs of the end and either put one off or invoke sympathy at the condition of old age. It made me realize how we celebrate and are in awe of the miracle of birth and yet we mourn and are devastated at death. If one were to look at it from a different perspective they are both transition stages - both are perfect and natural in the scheme of things albeit eliciting different emotions.
The other thing I started thinking about was this whole concept of perfection. And I realized that to date I have never met or heard of a man or woman who is perfect, in fact I don't even really know what the meaning of perfection is! And yet for the longest time in my life I have strived to be perfect, put my happiness on hold even, till that perfection was manifested. It then struck me that a few years ago I had a belief that God was perfect and to be accepted by "Him" I needed to be perfect too. This entity or energy that we call God or the Divine Being or the Universe - does it even know what perfect is - is perfect an achievement or a state of being? Is the Divine perfect or it just IS?
Now that triggered a whole chain of thought on what would it be for me to just BE, instead of this quest for perfection whether in the physical, emotional, mental or spiritual realm? As synchronicity would have it I used the very cool TED app on my iPad and came across a talk on vulnerability by Brene Brown and here are two things she said which struck me to the core :
- People who feel worthy have the courage to accept their imperfections.
- Vulnerability is the cause of fear and pain but is also the key to joy and life.
And that's when it hit me - there is no such thing as perfection - it's another one of those crazy man made ideals that keep us trapped within our own personalities. If there is such a thing as perfection then it would be an energy of acceptance of all as is, an absence of judgment, a worthiness that came just from existing and from nothing else. That's how nature is - it doesn't strive for perfection, it strives for existence, for survival. Nature doesn't have favorites - everything is equal in its cycle.
And so all of a sudden I felt liberated of the little judgment that was left of my own imperfections. I realized that life, at least mine was not meant to be about achieving this goal or that or molding myself to a certain standard. I realized my life was to embrace myself as I am - with all the little and big so called defects that I have grown to judge in myself. And just like that I realized I am a beautiful being, as beautiful and awe inspiring as when my parents first held me in their hands and I will continue to be so when this little niece of mine says goodbye to me as I transition into the other world. And so it is for each one of us throughout this miraculous journey called life!
Now the skeptic may ask - lofty ideals but if everybody were to just accept themselves as they are and feel worthy for just being would we not still be cavemen? Why would we strive for progress or to be better human beings or any of the other wonderful ways we have progressed as a civilization? In my case this journey of accepting who I am as I am and willing to be vulnerable, has actually opened me to my creativity and potential. Instead of living my life by other's standards of perfection, celebrating my existence has made me realize the contribution I can be to another person's life just because of the uniqueness that I bring to this planet. Instead of making me lackadaisical and sloppy it has helped me recognize my talent, it has motivated me to express it without fear and to know that even though I have flaws I am worth and I am enough to make this contribution.
I believe I am just the same as any other human being and therefore what holds true for me, would hold true for all and we would make enormous progress without some of the side effects we now see of an "imperfect" world frustrated by its failing attempts to be "perfect".
So what would it take to have the courage and compassion to embrace ourselves as we are for ourselves and see our vulnerability as this beautiful, adventurous side of us that allows us to forget who we should be and let's us express who we are - a miracle of life and existence!