entry 70. [do something new]
Outside my 2nd floor sun room windows, on the north side, are three avocado trees. Each day amongst these towering beauties my imagination is ignited. There is one tree in particular, the center avocado tree, that I can see from my chair without turning or straining to look that captures my attention most frequently. Sometimes these trees feel very close, so close that I can easily imagine living in a treehouse, stepping right out onto their branches.
At this moment, I feel the center tree is in need of water. The brown leaves largely outnumber the green ones, and there has been no fruit on any of these trees in the 5 months that I have lived here. No fruit that I have seen, anyway. The more I look at the center tree, the more brown leaves I see and the more thirsty I feel. Being the type of person to help anyone in need, I go downstairs to find the hose to give this beauty some water, only to discover the hose has been locked down by the landlord. Undeterred, I fill up my largest pot with water from the sink and carry it down, wondering if 6 quarts will actually make a difference to a tree this large. I figure it can’t hurt, and offer it anyway. As I pour the water, I realize it rained here the other day, and perhaps it wasn’t that thirsty after all. Perhaps I should just mind my own business…
That’s the kind of hell my mind can produce. I am compelled to participate in an act of kindness (or an act of inspiration, joy, celebration, appreciation, etc) and do so without hesitation. Once the act is complete, my mind loves to step in and stomp all over it. My mind is a harsh, harsh judge; proclaiming all of the time that if I can’t do something perfectly or give it my ‘best’ then I’d better just sit on the sidelines and let the ‘experts’ take care of things. In this case, the ‘experts’ are either the landlord who does not live here or the gardeners who come here once a month. Surely they know better than I, even as I look and ponder this tree day in and day out…
Just where did I get these ridiculous messages? How did I learn to be so nasty to myself? Why is it, that after years and years of actively improving myself that I still bump up against the perfectionist issue again and again? Why does everything have to be perfect? Life isn’t perfect and it never will be, and perhaps that, in and of itself is perfect. The Japanese have a beautiful way of accepting the imperfections in life, a term called “Wabi-sabi”. I looked up the definition of Wabi-sabi and found this: Beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
Beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
Breathe it in. I don’t know about you, but I find relief in that statement.
I start to think about my art career, and how I have reached a point where I feel stalled in the time I have to make art and the avenues available to exhibit and sell my work. If only I could afford to give up my clients and work solely on art, then I could get somewhere. If only I had more galleries! If only, if only, if only. Suddenly I realize; “If only” is the internal judge talking. “Wow,” I think to myself, “there is no aspect of my life that judge has not touched. She’s good.”
There is a squirrel in the center tree right now making quite a ruckus. I see her bushy tail darting in and out of the leaf clusters, running up and down the branches, throwing things down to the ground. I wonder what she is throwing? Surely there are no avocados. Or are there? Could there be fruit on this tree after all? She spots me, and we have a short staring match. I don’t have the same resolve as her. She wins. I go back to writing this entry, she goes back to gathering her fruit. Fruit! There are avocados in the tree! In order to get the fruit, she had to climb to the highest branches, running all over that tree, and even going from tree to tree looking for fruit.
And there it is, the message that I needed to receive today. It’s not reinventing the wheel, it’s certainly nothing new, but it is what I needed to remember. I share it with you here because perhaps there is something for you to gain in the remembering, too.
It’s not about doing anything perfectly, it’s about doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. In other words: When you’re hungry, gather food. And when you find that you’ve picked all the low fruit, head for higher ground. Or, if you’re earth bound (instead of living in the trees) take a cue from explorers; head west when you have been heading north. It is, perhaps only in the act of moving towards a new direction will you find what you have been looking for.