I am convinced that a lot of us spend our lives in the pursuit of perfection. If things are perfect we'll be worthy… if we are perfect, we'll be loved… if we are perfect we'll finally be happy. And how can we NOT spend so much of our time pushing perfection when it is constantly around us, or at least the illusion of perfection. Images of perfect lives, perfect homes and perfect bodies are everywhere. Every magazine cover reminds us that we don't have chiseled abs and nordic cheekbones. Every commercial drives home the point that our houses COULD be cleaner and have fewer germs or that our teeth COULD be whiter, stronger and straighter.
Yesterday I did something I rarely do, but wish I did more often… and no, it wasn't eat an entire cheesecake, although I sometimes wish I did THAT more often too. Yesterday I gave my "policeman" the day off. I usually let my policeman run my life. Who is my policeman? My policeman is my pursuit of perfection. He's the voice that helps me get things done, which is great…. but he's also the voice that oftentimes gets in the way of me enjoying the moment, the day, and myself. He's the voice that makes sure I go to bed early because I have things to do the next day, he makes sure my laundry is done and that I've gone to the grocery store. He was instrumental in making sure I got all my training in for the marathon… there were MANY runs I did not want to go do but he wouldn't let me skip them. He's a taskmaster. The downside of letting the policeman run the show is that he is not a fan of spontaneity, creativity or going with the flow. He is regimented, set in his ways, there are things that need to get done and they must get done according to plan. There is not room for deviation. Over the years he has been promoted, early on his career he was merely a beat cop, patrolling the aspects of my life and every once in a while checking in and making sure things were getting done and in good shape. Now, he's more like a sergeant. So yesterday… I gave him the day off. I made it my goal to sort of just "let things be". There were things I "needed" to get done, things to do…chores. Laundry was waiting, what should I have for dinner, should I stay home or go out that night… these are all things that usually get sorted out early on. I know what I'm having for dinner typically before I have lunch. Yesterday I gave myself permission to , you're gonna think this is crazy, wait until I was hungry that evening to decide what to do for dinner! I suppose that's probably normal for most people but it was a huge step for me! That being said, dinner turned out to be not very far off course of what I usually do, but the fact that I didn't know basically until it happened… WOW! I also didn't make the decision in the afternoon as to whether or not I would go out that night… I decided I would see what I felt like doing when it actually got closer to "going out time". Staying in and watching old episodes of The Office won out and I went to bed early and enjoyed the night. And here's the astonishing part, no laundry got done, what's more, the world went on.
How often do you give YOUR policeman some time off? We ALL have the voice that keeps us checking things off our list of "shoulds". How often do you let life just unfold and stop trying to control every aspect of it and make sure everything is perfect? We get so caught up in trying to be the best employee, boss, parent, spouse, whatever, that we forget how to just be US. How to do the things that make us happy, make us feel alive, nurture our soul. My challenge to you is to start small and start giving your policeman some extra long coffee breaks here and there. Build up to giving him a day off every now and then. Let the laundry go an extra day before you do it… because guess what, there will ALWAYS be laundry to do. There will always be groceries to go get and chores that need to be done. The thing is, even though those things are part of life… they don't do a very good job of making us ALIVE! I am convinced that the best memories we have are made from the times when we allowed ourselves to step out of our routines. When we let things happen and let our curiosity and natural wonder take over we might just be surprised how much we enjoy it. Clear your schedule, go explore a used bookstore, spend the day at the museum or anything else that speaks to your soul. Spend a little more time as a human BEING instead of a human DOING!