" Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue...where troubles melt like lemon drops,
away above the chimney tops—that's where you'll find me."
I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I don't think I'm the only one around. Perfectionists want to do everything, umm, perfectly. We expect much of ourselves, and perhaps, others. We want to be activators, integrators, celebrators. Life is meant to be and, by golly, can be bluebirds in blue skies, and oh, yes, blueberries in our smoothies. Blue is true. Blue is our color.
And . . . and if it doesn't come about, if our dedication and intense belief can't make it "right," then something is inherently "wrong," with us, or you, or the world, and soon or late we press the reject button. Whatever the issue, whatever the motive, the motif. Integrators? Disillusioned wannabe's are more akin to alligators. We might just gnaw on each other. There are a lot of scarred and scared people out there.
A somewhat mild exaggeration, of course. But we Americans—many of us, at least—have grown used to a state of living-being that those in many other nations would call exceptional. Although America has always lived with divisions and schisms both material and existential, this vision of ours has traditionally been a national high calling. We expect and yes, lay claim to something beyond what the world at large accepts as "norm." A touch of the perfect. A theoretical Eden of sorts. We know that. We have lived with that, flawed but durable . . . either gratefully or a bit (or more) smugly, or harrumphing about the flies in the sugar bowl. Now, when the flies have swallowed most of the sugar, we are aghast. What has happened to us?
This is not the American dream, the life we signed up for!
It's raining hard in Lala-Land.
And I'm thinking hard. Something is germinating in and around us. It's hard to put words to it, but here's a go at it: Life is about something greater than perfect. Because we aren't. It isn't. Never will be. Life has to be about creating a kind of interior climate that includes, but doesn't insist on, blue skies—engendered not by what we'd like to have, or be, or believe. It's got to rise up, slowly, insistently, in longing, from a deeper "us" than we knew we were.
When we see the soul-shallows that we've lived in, the coarse and casual shaping we have agreed to, we are ready to grasp a truth that is large and sustaining: we can, yes, live in a coarse and shallow world community with something pure that defies the lie of perfect.
Something wonderful happened to me a couple of years back. I fell apart physically. Life-threatening, potentially. Wonderful? Talk about storm clouds! Fear! And all my failures mounted up behind me, accusing and belittling and demanding.
And then . . . and then, something akin to death without dying happened. The blinders fell off these life-clouded eyes. I was weak, but inside of me, something new began probing through the glum. I learned to cry. Deeply. A wash long needed. I learned to laugh again. Oh, and often! Big whoopin' belly-laughs. Small, mischievous chuckle-laughs. Just because I was alive, and real—no more than that! My weary heart danced through the pounding rain, a steady beat.
Everything was two-sided now—not lop-sided, but I could "see through" what was impenetrable before. And find balance. Finding me meant nearly losing me first. Now it is no longer what I want from life, from the world "outside" that tends me, or teases me with its shove & pull.
What lives is what gives. What have I gained in the darkness that creates light? That's life now.
All grief contains seeds of unsprouted hope. And all the good stuff comes with a certain uncountable loss. The right hand knows what the left hand is doing, and the left hand knows how to back up the other. They belong to each other. As we are meant to be and do.
It is this that makes us "whole"—knowing we are partial (both meanings), and leaning in on each other, craving not others' goods but their capacity for goodness. The integrity of their open hands. Giving it all back, multiplied. Beginning everything with a hope for mutual trust. Birthing something larger than any one of us can do or be, alone.
Learning to simply care because we know "alone" is lonely, and lonely makes enemies of Love.
The dance of life is not meant to be a solo act. We are not meant to be star of the show—or Cinderella in the ashes. Not Babe Ruth, or the bat boy. Sometimes "celebrity" happens to us, for unexpected reasons . . . but no, not in us. Perfection? Failure? No dance of life is perfect. And a stumble is not a dead end. To know our inner self and accept or amend what we know of us, we climb out of our thin skin and settle down beside others. And create dialogues, dioramas. We learn what we can shed safely and gain safely.
A friend showed up at my door one day—one rather lonely day. She handed me a platter I'd admired on her coffee table, the kind meant to hold something other than food. Beautifully crafted, like our friendship. And its inscription was beautifully creative:
"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...it's about learning to dance in the rain." (Anon.)
A double gift . . . the unexpected giving and the truth to hold on to.
Here under the rainbow, we get drenched at times. Sometimes "soaked," in the rough-tough vernacular of meaning. But far above the rainbow, and here, in unexpected places, Heaven leans in on us, watching, waiting. singing the Song of Life.
Here, in this fretful society, in this beautiful, frightening, and struggling world, we are called to a two-step that will take us to a new small-great reality: Someone who needs us, needs our brothering, sistering. Somewhere beyond our perfection gone stale. Out on the perimeters of our outgrown or all-too-comfortable old ways. Not counting the cost, not belaboring our imperfect tempo, our awkward rhythm, our stumbling feet.
Singing in the rain, perhaps.
Maybe this is how to change the weather of the heart. Ours. Theirs. Until we truly begin to know each other. One by one by a million.
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