There is a typo on the back of my book. On the finished, published back of my book, which took so much time and work to complete. Not to mention the odd one I found inside. Do I wonder or do I wander? Do I metabolize or metabolise? My dear friend Maren, who published Fierce Integrity in 2013, promised me there would be mistakes, no matter how many editors I had, no matter how fine-toothed the comb. And I believed her—but I didn’t think it would be right there on the back cover!
Often, our desire for perfection inhibits our ability to be present. Time and time again, we are pulled out of the power of now to an imaginary landscape we assume will be free of mistakes, failings, trauma and suffering. To believe we will only (fill in the blank) have peace, be joyful, or feel successful when xyz are done, means we will always be in a state of lack. To come into a place of self-acceptance and self-love, we need to recognize that what is here now is exactly what we are looking for. Rich in the diversity of life’s polarities, it’s precisely what we came here to learn about. In all of its messiness, it is perfect.
Yet no matter how much self-work we do, we are all influenced by our culture: a daily bombardment of imagery and information selling and telling us what the ‘best’ is. The illusory bar of success can be set so high we miss the process entirely, when our gaze is only on the end result.
Now as an avid hiker, cyclist, yogi and paddleboard enthusiast, I am all up for challenges. Go team, let’s get physical! What I am talking about here is not whether we embark on challenges, but whether or not we measure our self-worth according to how we cross the finish line. Are we able to enjoy the training, the race, the joy of reaching new limits, or are we perseverating solely on the expected outcome?
So getting back to my book—what amazed me was my comfort in being seen in this mistake. I didn’t make up a story in my head about what it meant—that I was not good enough, unprofessional, incompetant. I didn’t feel humiliated or ashamed; it simply is what it is. There was a time where I would have been so embarrassed. I would have spent many moments thinking about what my readers thought of me and if they discredited all of the information in the book because of these simple mistakes. As if they could cancel out anything else of value.
Instead, I felt humble—like the universe was in direct conversation with me (because it was)—and it was saying, “Yes, of course the typo is on the back cover. That is exactly where it needs to be, even after all of that editing.” A gift challenging me to be seen in all of my messiness.
Years ago, when my children were small, I had to take conscious deep breaths to hold on to my sanity as I wandered around my uber-messy home, which looked like it had been mauled by wild animals. My breath would help me manage the anger that rose up as I looked at all the work I had to do to clean it and put it back together. I knew that if I could change the paradigm of my point of view, it would change the experience I was having. Was the chaos proof that I had tons of cleaning to do (when I was already soooo tired), or was this chaos evidence of something else entirely—evidence that love was here, life was here, a family that played, laughed, and was creative was here? Which one did I want to focus on? Which story would I tell?
Life is a work in progress. This book, this creation of mine, is a work in progress. There will be more printings, and in each one I will fix the mistakes. I will do my best to learn and improve. That’s all I can do; that’s all any of us can do.
We can fix spelling errors and tidy homes, sure enough. But if we are only living for the moments when everything is done—if we are holding our breath and only willing to be seen in perfection—we must ask ourselves if we are being seen authentically at all, by ourselves or by others. How many times has someone come over to your house and right away you say, “Sorry for the mess!” How often do you focus on what is wrong rather than what is right?
We have to stop waiting for the moments at the end of the night when the house is clean and quiet, or for the perfect book cover, or for whatever image of perfection you hold. We need to recognise that life is happening now that the celebration of this gift of life happens in the present, inclusive of everything. The supposed mistakes, failures, mess, trauma—all of the shit that we want to clean up, improve on, or get rid of—is actually rich with the deepest soul teachings of all.
Blessings and love,
White Raven Woman