I Am Not Perfect

By Anthony Gold

I live near one of the largest and most beautiful horticultural display gardens in the world. It’s called Longwood Gardens, and in the fall season it showcases the largest exhibition of chrysanthemums in the US. The star of this Chrysanthemum Festival is a single mum that contains more than 1,500 blooms! It is an amazing site to see.

That one flower is perfect.

But is it perfect because of the 1,500 finely spaced, gorgeous bulbs?

Asked another way, was it imperfect until it reached that final phase?

In a stirring metaphor posed in Sterner’s The Practicing Mind, he asks, “When is a flower perfect?”

Is it not perfect when it is still a seed in the hands of the florist? Or how about when that seed is buried a few inches in soil having nothing to show for its efforts? Or when it begins to sprout and slowly poke through the soil? How about when it blooms? Or when that cycle is complete and it disintegrates back into the earth?

The answer is that the flower is always perfect given its stage of development.

At no point in the lifecycle of the flower is it ever not perfect. As a seed, it never says to itself, “I won’t be happy until I am in full bloom. Being buried here in the soil is awful, surrounded by so much mud. This is taking forever. When will I get to be a flower?”

When it begins sprouting, the flower does not contemplate, “I wonder what it would be like to be an oak tree – the most majestic entity in the forest. That’s what I want to be. Then people will really admire me.”

No, in each phase, the flower is perfect exactly as it is.

And so are we.

Yet how often do we not see ourselves as such? I need such-and-such to change about me or my surroundings in order for me to be happy.

Such a statement exclaims, “I am not perfect as I am. I need things to be different in order for me to be happy.”

“I am not perfect” is not just a statement of discontent, it’s a declaration of disbelief.

Where I am and what I’m experiencing is not supposed to be happening to me.

Imagine the flower thinking such a thought.

When we can shift our mind – which shifts our entire perception – to recognize that we are exactly where we need to be, experiencing exactly what is happening as part of our growth, then we tap into the perfection of being.

From such a mindset we no longer bemoan the past or anxiously anticipate the future. Rather, we experience the blissful perfection of the present moment. No cares, no worries – just joy.

Join me in Monday’s class where we’ll explore the perfection of a flower and how we can achieve the same sense of perfect being. I look forward to seeing you then.

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