“When all the details fit in perfectly, something is probably wrong with the story.”
― Charles Baxter, Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction
As humans we try to fashion the road to perfection. We are souls, actually, who seek perfect lines and symmetrical fits that come complete with the notion that if we do it exactly one way, there will be no issues or troubles. It’s silly thinking that can land us flat on our face when challenged. We don’t understand why someone disagrees with what we think is our well reasoned view of things. We say it only takes 15 minutes to do something and wonder why someone resists doing just that? We say the color blue when someone insists on the color yellow. The old adage of standing in the shoes of the one we judge is still a powerful axiom on which to reflect. Yet also true, it would be wise for us to pause and consider that our way is not always the best way.
Consider that straight lines are not necessarily interesting or inspiring in and of themselves. The curves actually are teachers too and maybe even more powerful. If I insisted on straight lines in Merlin’s Garden it would be so-so. It’s the turns in the path and the curves in the garden bed that reveal elements of surprise and delight.
How we live our life should be no different. Perfection is a matter of perception. In some aspect, without its other — imperfection — it can never be known. The straight line can only be seen in comparison to the curve. By not insisting that all things fit in one framework, we might discover another way that is even better. By taking the time to listen to a friend’s heartfelt viewpoint we might see an insight we hadn’t considered before. By recognizing there are demands on a co-worker that we do not fully see we might better appreciate why it takes them more than 15 minutes.
Whatever the way, it’s the ups and downs and twists and turns that make for a rich life, one far more beautiful and lush than the insistence that the path be flat and even and done to our specifications. A flower faces detours all the time as it emerges from the soil. A tree may block its light. Another plant comes upon its path. Somehow neither stops the flower. It just makes a turn in the road and emerges elsewhere. It is a dance actually, a skip on the path, a leap of faith where we embrace all of life’s complexities and foibles and irritations as true gifts.
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