Exactly the way it is

It’s early June, and I’m enjoying the first few beautiful days of summer.  I finally did the spring yard cleanup, and I am sitting in the hammock in the backyard, the sun warming my skin, listening to the birds chirp. 

I’m facing the side of my house, which was built in 1908 and which I bought 2 1/2 years ago as a fixer upper.  I’ve done a lot of work on the interior of the house, but the outside has been left to languish in imperfection.  There are two “phantom windows” – i.e. windows that are there on the outside, but have been walled over on the inside.  There’s the debris from the former electrical circuit box, which was the first thing to be upgraded.  There’s the patch of mismatched siding that covers where the old bathroom window used to be.  There’s the old, rusted heating vent pipe.  It’s not pretty.

And I am practicing, taking it all in, and accepting it exactly the way it is.  Not daydreaming about how I would like it to be different.  But really accepting each feature, and trying to wrap my head around the idea that it might never change.  It might always look exactly like this, and I could be ok with that.

If I try to apply this principle to all the imperfections in my life, I find that I am less paralyzed by fear.  I can be satisfied with moving forward on goals in baby steps, because I don’t need everything to change all at once.  For example, the process of building a business can be quite harrowing – it very rarely goes smoothly or happens quickly.  But if I can accept my business just the way it is right now, I can approach figuring out the next steps with openness and creativity, instead of scarcity and tension.

If I try to apply this principle to all the imperfections in myself, living inside my mind gets so much easier.  I can accept that I am not patient enough for training my dog, or starting a garden right now, instead of spending precious brain cycles berating myself for not being better.  It’s not that I don’t want to improve – that pervasive American ideal to constantly be hustling, always be ambitious, always try to solve all the problems and make it better can be intoxicating.  But, I find that the better approach is the let it get better, not by forcing it, but by accepting that everything will be OK if it never gets better. 

After I focus my intention on accepting every phantom window and every spot of rust, I nod off into a peaceful nap.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get new siding on my house.  But I do know it will not happen today, and I can leave it be for now.

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