Looking at a large Japanese Red Maple in full fall color almost took my breath away recently.  I was walking with my daughter in a very special outing, and did the entire Sea Wall, just the two of us.  Lovely. We saw a huge fleet of migrating sea ducks at rest in English Bay.  This was inspiring because I haven’t seen that number of seabirds in ages.  This led to a rich conversation with a photographer ornithologist.  We enjoyed many prospects on the walk, the crisp fall air, the lapping waves. Then we saw The Tree! We both gasped on seeing this glory.  The color was scarlet, its form handomely pleasing to the eye.  It was grand, elegant, and seemed, shall I say, simply “perfect.”  We walked over to take it in up close. What a surprise!  There was hardly a leaf without some kind of blemish — some were a bit curled, had small or large holes nibbled by insects, has blisters made by parasites…  Really, this “perfect” tree was full of imperfections and blemishes. What a lesson! I have struggled with, and come to accept, even relish, the paradoxical teaching that Everything is Perfect Just the Way It Is (AND We Need a Project).  And I have struggled with, and come to see the importance of, grappling with my Dark Side:   the fears, hatred, judgements… you know the territory!  (See Dancing with the Dark Side for some thoughts on this.) Experiencing this perfect-seeming tree, riddled with blemishes, bumps, bites, injuries, parasites became a rich metaphor for the blend of these two ideas and teachings.  I am perfect just the way I am, and it’s fitting and right that I work to improve myself, my ways of being in the world.  (I respectfully offer that all this applies to the world generally, and, specifically, to each of us.  If the shoe fits…maybe try it on :-)) And at the very same time, Just as I am completely perfect, I am also riddled with imperfections!  I am an amazing life form, alive at an incredible moment in history, full of potential, wonder, possibilities, and I am judgemental, of myself, others; I am selfish, thoughtless, forget to take even one conscious breath, or think before I speak… (You may know this territory as well!)    See Waking Up for a way to hold this mix. The walk with my daughter was memorable, and continues to fill me with gratitude.  And the insights that arose from seeing a perfect and glorious tree so full of blemishes and imperfections are many and precious, and I’m pleased to share a few of them with you.  Your comments and questions are most welcome.

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook :-)

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