If you read my recent post about My Big Hairy Audacious Dream, here's an update from a day last week in New York City.
The wind sliced at my face and I burrowed my nose a little lower into the wool of my scarf. My Sorrel winter boots scuffed the gravel road and sent sprays of snow through the air as I let her words sink in. "Terri, I hear what you're saying, but you need to remember something important...Mr. Right does not have to be Mr. Perfect."
The muscles between my shoulder blades must have tensed up. I'm sure I thought, what does she know? How dare she judge me because I haven't settled down yet!
The details of what brought me home or how long I stayed for on that trip, now escape me, but I remember the snow, the cold, and the walk with my Mom. She must have asked about my most recent break-up and I must have given her a long list of reasons why it didn't work out. I'm sure at the time, her words probably grated at the raw edges of my failed relationship wound, but now I see how transferable these words are.
No, this is not a relationship post, but these words popped it into my head today.
We live in a society where we hold perfection up as the ideal. If we could just have the perfect body, the perfect relationship, or the perfect job, we might finally be happy.
But, what I keep learning is this...
Nothing is perfect. Nobody is perfect. Oh and perfection does NOT lead to happiness.
Today, I had an imperfect day. It started with a long line up at Bob's Deli in New Jersey. A line so long, I couldn't risk waiting in it for my morning coffee. Then, when I got in the car (without any caffeine), my friend's GPS barked an onslaught of orders at me to merge left, exit right, then merge left again as I navigated from busy freeway to Turnpike to clogged bridge. With cars swerving in and out of the five lanes in my rearview mirror, I gripped the wheel at the "10 and 2" position and reminded myself that tensing up would only make things worse.
After my first meeting ended, I got back in the car to make the "one hour drive" back. Too late, I saw the signs above the freeway that said, "Bridge Construction. Expect Massive Delays".
But, what do you do when you have only the GPS to guide you? You can't take an alternate route because you have no idea where to go and don't want to chance getting off the freeway only to have to wait to get back on. So, you inch along between two tractor trailers, breathe in exhaust fumes, pretend not to see the scraps of metal on the side of the road (from previous accidents) and pray you make it back in one piece. To distract yourself from your, "I'm driving in New York for the first time and I grew up in a town with only one stop light" nerves, you turn up the radio and memorize the words of the same five songs playing (on repeat) on three different radio stations.
When you finally make it to your next meeting (two and half hours later) and find parking (after your twenty minute search through one way street after one way street), you lock the car and half run down the street. You had read online about this "amazing" coffee shop with free wi-fi and you hope a cappuccino and the Internet connection will take the edge of your fried nerves, especially because you are now 10 minutes late for your 3pm skype conference call. The bitchy girl behind the counter looks at you like you have three eyes when you ask for the wifi passcode and when you finally login for your call, the connection is so bad, you can only hear crackling. Later on, when you walk through the freezing cold to the car you have borrowed for the day from your friend, you find a $45 parking ticket (even though it clearly stated you could park there for up to four hours).
You flop down on the driver's seat, a little lightheaded because all you had for lunch was a peanut butter and chocolate chip CLIF bar, and beep your way through the GPS screens until you have mapped out your route "home". You stop and start through another hour of NYC rush hour traffic and finally pull up to the train station to collect your friend. Today, you got no writing done, no emails answered, and no sightseeing in. But at least you can now check off "driving in New York" from your bucket list (as if that was actually on it).
Your friend gets in the car and says, "how was your day?".
You could lie and say it was fabulous.
But...I'm a terrible liar. So I told her about the 5 hours in traffic. The exhaust fumes. The stress of driving in the city.
"But, here's the upside", I said, "Once you've been through chemotherapy, everything else is relative. Yes, in some ways, today was a drag. But, my worst days now are so much better than my best days then."
She snorted and laughed at me, "Ok Miss Zen. Whatever."
But in truth, today had some high points. I met with a couple of people from one of my favourite international volunteer organizations, Cross Cultural Solutions, to talk about how I might partner with them on some of the crazy dreams I'm working towards. Then, I got to sit down and have coffee with one of my favourite bloggers, Debbie (from Where We Go Now). Debbie drove through 2 hours of traffic to meet me and as soon as we hugged hello, I knew I had found another kindred spirit. Debbie has created a community to help other survivors (of any type of cancer) talk about where we go after cancer (a topic close to my heart). I'm looking forward to having a bit more time to check out her Gifts and Losses page and have the chance to add my own Gifts and Losses to her site.
Now, back to where I was going with all of this... If you have skimmed through this piece and are waiting patiently for my tired New York self to wrap this up, here's the lesson I remembered today...following your dreams does not mean every day will feel perfect. There are days when I question everything. When I miss my old life. When I long for my old apartment, my sweatpants, and my TV. When I wonder if I have "bitten off more than I can chew" (yes, I got ahead of myself when I wrote this post about naming my not for profit WAY before I had a clear vision of what it might look like). When I have to swallow my pride and admit, once again, that I don't have the answers.
But, then I have an opportunity to connect (at a much deeper than surface level) with someone new and I remember how lucky I am to be on this adventure.
So, if you're thinking about making a change in your life (no matter how big or small) and you think you should wait until the perfect time to do it, here's the thing... The timing will never be perfect. The idea will never be perfect. You will never be perfect. So, why not take that leap? Sign up for that online dating site, research an opportunity to volunteer internationally, tell a friend about your new business idea, or fill out that application for your master's degree.
Maybe it won't work out exactly as you want it to, but how will you ever know if you don't take one little step?
"Sometimes you have to jump and build your wings on your way down." - Anonymous
Much like one of my favourite quotes, every day I am choosing to trust my intuition and take big leaps of faith. I don't pretend to know exactly how it will all turn out, but I will continue to take imperfect steps towards my ever evolving dreams.
As my very wise Mother once said, "(Mr.) Right does not have to be (Mr.) Perfect."