I think it is innately human to want to check things off the list, cross a finish line or complete a task. At least that is what we have been taught. To set goals, to finish what we have started. We all have subscribed to these ideas in one way or another. Yearly intentions, resolutions and even words for the year have a slight lean toward a goal or expectation. And in a lot of ways, goals are important. They keep us moving in the direction we desire. They help us to incrementally have a tangible sense of accomplishment.
In the midst of the pandemic, we have tried to minimize the number of people that we have allowed in our home. We were in the final stages of finishing our home renovation when being settle became more important than finishing all of the little details. I am definitely a detail oriented person and actually have an overwhelming need for completion. And with all of the other things that became way more important that putting the cherry on top of the sundae, I had to let go of the idea of completeness.
I never realized what a profound teacher incompleteness can be. My children had incomplete years of school last year. With one each moving on from middle and elementary schools. As a parent, I was unable to make those transitions perfect by any stretch of the imagination. We instead had to sit with what those loose ends created. It stirred up a lot of feelings for both them and me. I had always tried to be the perfect parent for them and I could not save them from the pains of life. It’s funny that I thought that I ever could. It showed me that I tend to dissociate when my kids are in pain. I have a hard time staying with their discomfort. I have had to learn to create healthy boundaries so that I can tend to their needs without absorbing their feelings into my own body. They have learned resilience. Yes, life hurts sometimes. Yes, you will not always get what you want, but you can learn some valuable lessons and GAIN perspectives that you never would have otherwise. I cannot think of anything more valuable to teach them. And, it would have never happened without a complete shutdown. I would have been too busy trying to not let them fall.
On a spiritual level, I had been told time and time again that there is no finish line. That spirituality is like an onion. When one layer is peeled away, there will always be another one. That truly frustrated me…especially when it was a particularly difficult layer. I would inevitably be celebratory when I gained a small toe hold only to be swirled back down into another layer of teaching. Only when I learned to surrender and ride the waves did I recognize that incrementally those layers became easier because I was not forcing myself to an imaginary finish line. And I no longer agonized when I found myself in a round of growth because I knew that it was here for my benefit…still not easy, but more tolerable.
And so it is. As I look at unfinished trim and holes that need to be patch, I wonder, “Who am I going to impress with the perfection of my home anyway…the dogs?” If it is finished, is it really finished? Anyone that lives in a home knows the answer is a resounding…No. Of course, I will continue to do what I can to move in that direction. After all, recognizing the value of incompleteness does not mean that we stagnated with a lack of purpose. But, I will not feel resigned to a sense of failure because it did not become what I had envisioned it to become in the timeframe that I set for it. It will happen. I will never live in this home where all items on my punch list are complete. Yet, in its imperfection it has held us through all of the ups and downs of the last year. I couldn’t ask for much more than that.
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