Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
- Leonard Cohen, Anthem
* * *
Time is a motherfucker. Regrets are illuminations come too late. Always we fucked fuckers tend wounds, finding ways to keep them open, because our fidelity to the past is greater than our willingness to live and dare this very moment to be something other than a rehash of what has come before, and we are shocked, just shocked, at time's flight. By pouring over what is past and gone, dead and gone, by insisting that we can keep the past from slipping away from us, we seal off what may yet be. There is a popular trope floating around these days encouraging us to lean in. Fuck that. We should lunge in.
The tendency to relive the past - either our glories or our pain - is the very soul of perfectionism and perfectionism is a ruse we play on ourselves in which we acquire supernatural powers of control in order to never feel any pain, or disappointment, or defeat, or loss, or even joy. The perfect is lifeless. The imperfect is fecund, variable, prone to bursts of light, surges of dark. It advances in stutter steps and headlong rushes. It crashes. It burns. It cracks open the perfect shell of illusion and that is how the light gets in - the light you need in order to see where you are going and that is all that matters.
You know where you've been. Now let it go.
* * *
Why do we try so fucking hard to make things "right" or "perfect"? Could there be anything more useless that perfect rightness? It is better to be kind than right, better to be fallible (you know, human) than godlike. Here's why: this is where the adventure is. In Rilke's Duino Elegies he wrote of angels longing to set aside their perfection to become human, to join time in order that they might know the feral power of love and loss as something beyond perfection because it was finite.
Why, if this interval of being can be spent serenely
in the form of a laurel, slightly darker than all
other green, with tiny waves on the edges
o every leaf (like the smile of a breeze) - ; why then
have to be human–and, escaping from fate,
keep longing for fate?...
Oh not because happiness exists,
that too-hasty profit snatched from approaching loss.
Not out of curiosity, not as practice for the heart, which
would exist in the laurel, too...
But because truly being here is so much; because everything here
apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which in some strange way
keeps calling to us. Us, the most fleeting of all.
Once for each thing. Just once; no more. And we too,
just once. And never again. But to have been
this once, completely, even if only once;
to have been at one with the earth, seems beyond undoing.
If you would have perfection you must be imperfect. If you would be eternal, beyond the stench of time, you must be finite. If you would join all life you must live but one life, the one in your hands.
And how is that done? By doing what you can while you can. By ringing the bells that can be rung, not the ones you'll never reach or hear. By letting go of the shame that attends our fears. We are ashamed to have ever fallen. We are ashamed it hasn't worked out better. We are ashamed of our bodies, our works because they are not perfect. We see perfection in our mind's eye but cannot live it and so believe we are not blessed.
I get that. I know that one pretty good. I also know it is a lie.
* * *
You and your imperfection are exactly what you need to find out what there is you can do with the bit of time left. You might have another 60 years. You might have 6 days. No matter. Nothing is promised. You have to go find out what there is for you in this world and I can promise you you were made for more that being fucked. Getting fucked and stuck is inevitable. It happens to each and every last one of us motherfuckers. The challenge is how you respond to it. And listen, you can piss away all of your time being stuck. People do it all the time. The idea of reincarnation helps smooth over that wasteland. But the truth is, love, there's only here, there's only now and that is enough. Truly it is. This moment is enough for you to know the power that rings your senses, that quickens your heart and illuminates your mind. This moment is enough for you to know that you are enough, that it is not your losses that define you, but your willingness to respond to those losses with kindness, tenderness and let them go so that you can see what else there is to see while it is still light out.
Shame and fear are the harrowing of hell. Have none of it. You have nothing to be ashamed of or to fear. You are human: fallible, imperfect, capable of great love. This is your perfection and it makes the angels weep that they cannot be you.
* * *