Last night I went to a Halloween play by Ray Bradbury called “Something Wicked This Way Comes” at the Twin City Playhouse. It was a dark play, and the theme was about our obsession with aging or not aging and dying. I got home and its themes haunted me. I’m 55. The ticking clock grows ever louder, and I find myself questioning my every move in the context of whether or not it’s my last one. I have to say I was a little depressed when I went to sleep. But I said a prayer that God would help me reframe my thinking to what’s important.
This morning’s Hope for Today reading brought up the really important question, “How important is it?” Lately, I’ve been reminded of the brevity of life. I’ve had several friends whose lives have been cut short in the last few months. At one time in my life, I would have thought 55 was a full, long life, but now that I’m here, I realize how really young it is. Those two deaths of my contemporaries have certainly brought to mind the uncertainty of tomorrow.
I bought a 100-year-old house that is not exactly perfect. In my quest to meet my goals of being able to save money, I bought modest on purpose. It was a hard decision on whether or not it would be economically better to buy an old house with its uncertain needs or a newer condo with a fairly high condominium fee and lower resale potential. I don’t know if I made the right decision. Hindsight will tell me, but I’m in the process of getting to know my house and its quirks. It will long outlive me that’s for sure.
I find myself focusing on what’s wrong with the house while the perfect Better Homes and Gardens version dances in my head. “How much would that cost?” I ask myself. Then I walk into another room and realize I need to fix something else at some point. I can get overwhelmed thinking of all the things that have to be fixed or made better. I said when I bought it that I would not do a lot of work to it. I bought something that was livable the way it was. And I have to remember that question “How important is it?” when it comes to making a house perfect. A perfect house does not make a home.
I have this struggle with perfectionism. It’s not the type of perfectionism that has me trying to do everything perfectly. It’s the kind that causes me to worry about what people think and whether I fit in or whether or not I’m lovable. It gets worse in times when I’m stressed. And, of course, I’ve been stressed the last 3 months. Thankfully over the years I have learned to soothe myself with self-talk that reminds me that I don’t have to be perfect to be loved. It helps take the edge off and allows me to refocus, but, honestly it doesn’t take away those fears of not being lovable. They still linger in the background waiting to knock me off my feet at the perfect opportunity.
So today I’m going to ask myself “How important is it?” before I get too worried or upset over the little things that present themselves. My range doesn’t seem to be perfectly level. My egg slid a little bit over to the side of the pan when I cracked it. I got irritated that it wasn’t leveled properly, and then I wondered if it might be the pan. I don’t know, but it’s certainly not a big enough damn deal to be stealing my serenity this early in the day. I’ve actually learned over the years that learning to live with imperfections has brought me more gifts than trying to fix them.
It’s Friday. I am grateful to have a beautiful old house with a rich history and mottled imperfect wood floors that I could afford to have refinished. I have a great job with lots of promise and am surrounded by some really nice people to boot. I have a God that constantly surprises me with unique life experiences and pushes me to be the best that I can be in a supportive way. I have more friends all over the place than I ever dreamed of having, and somehow I’ve discovered a way to turn my frizzy hair into a beautiful pile of curls. Is there more I wish I had? Yes, there is more that I want. But when I ask myself “How important is it?”, I hear the whisper of another perspective. My recently deceased friends would just be grateful for another day doing the deal. It’s really just as simple as that. I have everything I need.