Perfect Strangers…

I met Robert because the car company I had scheduled to take me to the San Diego airport failed to show up that morning.  After an insightful week of contemplation at a meditation retreat, I could feel my stress levels rising sharply when I realized that my transportation wasn’t coming and now I had very little time to make my flight.  The concierge reassured me that he could have a taxi there quickly.  Doubtful, I agreed resigning myself to the fact that I would probably miss my flight.

Moments later, the shiny, bold yellow taxi glided to a stop in front of the concierge area…and Robert stepped out swiftly to grab my suitcase like he could sense my panic.  He stopped for a moment to give me a warm smile before he said hello.  “We’ll get you there” he said softly.  “No worries OK?”

I’ve had a few moments in my life when I have met someone and there has been an immediate connection formed-this was one of those times.  Sliding into the leather seats in the back, I put my bags on the floor and laid my head back.  I’m not sure who started talking first, but I told him how I ended up coming to the Chopra Center for my meditation workshop and what I was hoping to gain from it.  The conversation was so easy…flowed so perfectly.  Robert was a writer too…he travelled once a year to Indonesia and stayed for a month-this year he would stay for two as he had recently sold his house and had some extra funds to do so.  The train was his outlet for writing and he said his work flowed well when he was settled back and relaxed watching the world go by.

It was natural for me to describe to him my struggle with my own desires for my life right now…that was my primary focus for travelling to California in the first place.  I wanted to settle my mind…gain some clarity.  Over the past several years I felt that I had been engaging in a lot of introspection and dabbling in things I was interested in…but I only felt that I was hitting the perimeter of where I wanted to be.  I’m looking for that elusive bull’s-eye.

As he listened I could see him peering in the rearview mirror from time to time.  It was dark while we were travelling, but I could see the shine in his eyes.  Somehow, I started talking about nursing-in a very broad sense.  At one point I trailed off realizing that I was struggling so hard for the “right” words.  I was looking out the window at the palm trees assembling the “proper” sentence in my head to describe how I was feeling in my current job.

Then it came.  “Tell me something” he asked looking in the mirror quickly at me.  “How do you like being around illness all of the time?”

There it was.  Right there.  The gate lifted.  “I don’t like it at all” I replied.  “I just get so tired sometimes”…

Oh man.  I can’t believe I just said that to him.  He’s going to think I am a terrible person…what kind of a nurse doesn’t like being around sick people?  Why can’t I handle that constantly?  I SHOULD be able to..that’s why I went into nursing after all.

But it wasn’t.  That is not why I went into nursing.  I went into nursing to empower teach.  To help them find ways to take accountability for their own health-mental, emotional AND physical.  I did not enter this profession to watch suffering or feed powerless ideas.  I do not want to be pushed to the end of my abilities on a frequent basis.  I want to feed the positive wellness of the world-in whatever capacity I am able to do that.

What a perfect question!  So well-timed and simply asked.  The answer came out quickly and easily…no thinking.

I realized during my time away that I am addicted to the idea of perfection.  It’s a very messy feeling to come face to face with a truth that may not always be pretty.  After this understanding though, I thought that maybe it’s just a matter of rearranging the meaning that I am attaching to that idea of perfection.  I have always thought of that word in a very pristine way-perfect means tidy, nice, acceptable and right.  Those adjectives are impossible to achieve most of the time-so how in the world could I ever reach any kind of comfort level in my own self if what I was addicted to was unattainable?

Challenging a thought pattern is a ridiculously hard thing to do…it becomes an exercise in behaviour modification that starts out with the basics.  What do I really, really think perfection means?

To me, perfection is real.  It can’t be anything else.  It is at the right place and the right time for all the right reasons.  It’s just what you are in this exact moment and precisely where your life rests here and now.  It’s got room to grow and move…and change if desired.  It’s marked with all the past experiences that has brought you to this point.  If it were clean than that would mean you had not engaged in anything to learn from anything.  Life leaves marks on you-it just can’t be perfect.

Incredible that a stranger can ask you a question that peels off layers of layers of “stuff”.  Stuff that I thought was “wrong” to think…or maybe I just didn’t want to accept because I wasn’t sure where that would leave me.  It’s alright to not know all of the answers all of the time.



I ran into a gentleman at the resort who said that he often takes many pictures of these birds of paradise-and then looks over them to try and pick out their personalities.  Some stand up straight and proud, some are hunched below the others.  And some have been affected by weather, animals and other forces.  But all of them individual.  Interesting to see yourself in a flower.

One comment

  1. This is a great article! It especially hits home while I read it surrounded by illness. You have a such a lovely ability to convey complex emotions and senses of being with your words.

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