Of Bikes & Candysticks
When I was a boy my dad bought a brand new 1980 Honda 125 kickstart motorcycle to ride to work every day. For me it was the ultimate treasure, the heights of all time and aspiration, the stuff of boyhood imagination like sucking on the cacophonously tasteful candy-stick, and summertime baseball. My dad was the coolest ever. I was a king … in my mind only, but such a beautiful thing I had never seen before. I knew I'd get to ride her one day. Whole conquests are made of a small red motorcycle. I didn't know the lifetimes that would seemingly happen until that day…the one perfect day when I was 42 years old. My dad had gotten the "old thing" running again. I thought its days were numbered, and then new days, glorious days were counted once again! I'd been riding motorcycles for a few years before that day, but it was then, and only then that my motorcycle dreams came true! I put on my dad's helmet…the original helmet. She purred, I tell you. My niece hopped up the back of 'er and the fireworks of happiness celebrated, like the wind in my face. Such wonder! Happiness. But my days before then were pretty good too. Not all of them, but I had many, many good days.
In Pursuit of … Beautiful
How do we perceive perfection? Should perfection be the "holy grail" of our life pursuits? Well I have another idea.
Our lives can be pretty gray sometimes. Sometimes it feels like nothing we do seems to flourish into brightness and hope. Sometimes it seems like no matter how hard we practice something, we can't seem to perfect the effort, and all seems to fall back into gray. But what if perfect doesn't need to be the "holy grail"? What about nourishing our practice with acceptance, and empowerment. I rode my bike, let me tell you. I practiced every day. I made u-turns, quick stops, and obstacle avoidance maneuvers. I practiced my "Elgersma's Rules of the Road" such as slowing at every intersection whether the light is green or not. But I wasn't a perfect rider. I have many long years to go before I come close. But maybe perfection isn't the purpose of practice. Maybe beauty can be. Practice can make beautiful.
On Being My Best – Not The Best
I can't help everyone, even though I've seemingly given my best effort. The more I give therapy as a therapist, the better I'll become. Yet I've talked to highly experienced counselors who've said to me the same thing I just told you. They've not been able to help people 100% of the time. Those who've striven for perfection could possibly understand how my profession, relationship and mental health counseling, is full of counselors who burn out from perceived failure. Many of you can understand from your own lives, your own professions, your own sense of your best, or the best.
Purpose of Practice
I've used a certain phrase in talks/groups that's induced positive, exciting, reactions from my "crowd"…many have even been relieved to hear it. One person who heard me talk actually looked at another person, put his hand to his head, and expanded his fingers in a "mind-blown" (I like to say "mind-blossom! 😃) kind of gesture. I used the phrase because I needed me to learn this lesson. Some who practice never reach perfect, even though they, and those around them have expected it of them. Lack of perfection has severely hurt many a good person.
I'd failed at my own business…a few businesses. Well, to make a long story short, I felt like I wasn't good at practically everything. I've practiced skills, worked out problems, etc. etc. and my endeavors seemed to me to amount to little to nothing.
You see, I believed that if enough people use a phrase, like "practice makes perfect", then it must be true. Because I accepted and believed that practice could make perfect. And since I practiced and never achieved perfection, then I must somehow be "less than". Since that long accepted phrase (practice makes perfect) didn't seem to work for me, then the only believable attribute I could deduce was that, by its logic, I must be the anomaly, the outlier, the outcast, the mightily imperfect. That was a lonely, lonely life I chose. I, like many, chose to accept a lie, and we lived that lie as our normal…pretend normal. Until I found myself on top of my dad's Honda 125 kickstart motorcycle.
Dark & Lonely vs. Light & Beautiful
I chose a dark and lonely way of life. In fact, I figured that being an anomaly (since I was the only imperfect person) made me special, and so I began to embrace my specialness! Yea I embraced it…I started to go dark, meaning I began to shut the good life out. I drank and caroused instead. I shut down helpers, shut out studies, & even shut out my wife because I was radically imperfect and didn't think I could deserve them. I know it wasn't right. I know. I arrogantly devalued them by devaluing me.
Arrogance breeds isolation. And I think humans are naturally relational (introverts & extroverts alike : )). I had relationships, and good friends, but I allowed little of what they said or did to affect me. I chose.
Would Ya Like A Ride?
Until my friends helped me learn that perfect did not have to be a value. And until my dad rolled that little bike out of the garage, and asked me, "would you like a ride?" Oh, would I! Oh would I! A simple moment of letting a dad into my space, and a little boy's dream to fill me. I learned that I need to simply understand that what I contribute could be good, even if it wasn't "everything", wasn't the best. And what I could have simply by desiring a relationship with someone else, imperfect as they are, is the essence of humanness and joy.
And I learned that what you and I view as great, is rarely perfect. Therein lies the phrase that humbled me from my arrogant pedestal. I just wrote it one day, not sure why. I think isolation strained my system so much. I wrote the phrase sometime after I found myself gloriously atop my boyhood dream, though I think it probably hit me that day. The phrase was simply all of a sudden there. And I experienced immediate relief. Here is my "Oh my goodness, mind blossom" moment; the moment I received a mind-heart-soul massage from God:
A Day In The Life Of A Practicing Man
Practice Might Not Make Perfect …
Practice Might Not Make Perfect …
"Practice might not make perfect,
but practice can make beautiful."
Yep, my businesses failed. I did my life imperfectly. Life is even pretty hard right now…the "river is risin'' so to speak. But man, what I am now is someone I didn't fathom 10-12 years ago. The point isn't the height of the water. The point is I've learned how to swim, and that I am not alone in the pool. I get to be imperfect and relational. I get to be a boy and a husband and a dad. I'm not swimming perfectly, but swimming is a beautiful thing. And the more I practice, the better it gets.
"Practice might not make perfect,
but it can make beautiful."