Stop Looking for Perfect
When we are young, we dream of what our lives will become. We see our careers as a straight line on progressive advancement with each job complete with a boss who nurtures our potential and co-workers who both recognize and respect our talents. We see a spouse and a couple of healthy kids living in a nice house in the suburbs. We see weekends that look more like beer commercials than real life.
This fantasy future we see is completely understandable given what our culture feeds us pretty much from birth, but of course once we get a few years under our belt we come to realize the life that TV and the rest of the media fed us from childhood wasn’t exactly true.
There are two paths we can take once this realization hits. One path is bitterness and disappointment, and it is a very appealing path when we feel like life has not lived up to our expectations for it. When our career track looks more like a scatter-plot graph than a straight line headed north we look for people to blame- bosses who were intimidated by our talents, co workers who stole credit, an economy that simply did not reward achievement. When our family life hits the inevitable pitfalls of life we can blame our spouse.
This path leads to a life that is never good enough and always lacking. Clearly, this isn’t the way we want to go.
The second path we can take once we realize that life is not a Hallmark movie is acceptance with purpose. The world is not perfect and neither is mankind, and because of this life will always be something of a roller-coaster ride. But as the philosopher Josef Pieper said, ” he alone can do good who knows what things are like and what their situation is.” Acknowledge the world and your place in it- and then get to work making your corner of it better.
It is tempting to look for perfect. Sometimes it almost feels like we deserve it. But perfect doesn’t exist, and the sooner we can accept that, the sooner we can learn to appreciate what life is- pretty darn amazing. Would we like a well-paying job in a company that rewards hard work and is loyal to its workers that we can stay in for 25 years? Of course. But remember that “work” as we think of it today is a pretty new concept. Historically most people slaved away on small patches of land to scrape out a living, constantly worrying of they could feed their family. Would we like the perfect home with the white picket fence and a weed free, gloriously green yard? Sure! But I’ll take my slightly run down 120 year old house with no yard to speak of over living in the tenement housing many of my ancestors did when they first came to this country.
Accepting the world as it is doesn’t mean settling; it means looking at life objectively for what it is and realizing that it really is pretty good. When we can see that it is so much easier to get back in the trenches and do the work we were meant to do and make the world just a little bit better.