Our memories remain a major influence on us throughout our lives, and crucially they help to make us into the people we become, whether we think that is a good thing or not. Some memories are painful and we try to block them, but sadly, they mostly choose not to go away, and even though we push them as far as we can below the surface of the soil that we believe is our groundedness, they never fully take root down there, and eventually resurface. It is always better to try and deal with memories that haunt us, so that we can move forward with them and get to a stage where we accept they are part of us, whether they are pleasant or not.
It is sad that as human beings, we strive for perfection and this quest seems to cause endless suffering. My view is that perfection is all around us in small momentary scenes, and it is not the scene itself that provides this perfection, but how we choose to view it. Perfection is how WE want something or someone to be; it is such a subjective state. We wish for perfect parents, siblings, partners, the perfect career, body, face, holiday. In fact, this longing takes up vast amounts of our time, that we have become lost in the haze of it and forgotten to acknowledge the small moments of perfection that present themselves to us daily.
I believe that life should be seen as being made up of numerous short scenes from a long film, the film that is our life. When we watch a film, we tend to discuss with others the minute details we were taken with, ones that we found moving, beautiful, poignant, humbling, life-affirming even. We see these scenes as perfect pieces of the jigsaw that is the story. We seem to accept the characters’ flaws and view their behaviour in a more empathetic way than we perhaps might if they were real people. We basically tend to be more forgiving as impartial observers of other people’s lives, but less so as participants in our own.
I watched the film Whiplash recently, a brilliant film about an incredibly talented drummer and his teacher’s desire to find a ‘Great’ on a par with Buddy Rich. There was a lot of ‘perfection’ in this film that I didn’t have to spend vast amounts of time searching for, because it was presented to me on a plate. So, I got to hear beautiful jazz music, watch great acting, witness extremes of human nature- what makes people behave cruelly, or dismissively, what saddens people or delights them. Without giving away too much, in case you have yet to see the film, we see the passion for drumming in the protagonist, the passion to discover real talent in the teacher, a desire to prove their worth in both characters, and we hear the perfect beauty of music throughout the film. We may be shocked by the way the teacher behaves, but we also see his emotion and his humanness in more than one scene. We see despair and determination in the drummer, but also selfishness and dismissiveness in the way he treats his girlfriend. In short, the perfection in the film was in its realness and its depiction of the beautifully perfect frailty of the human psyche.
Essentially, we can see that all human beings have many facets to their nature, and that to judge someone by how they make one feel at a given moment, is not really seeing the bigger picture. If we look at the positive moments in the film, the fleeting beauty of various scenes, we are able to forgive the bad behaviour in the characters.
In our everyday lives, we are presented with tiny moments of perfection that dance daintily in front of us, but we often miss them and focus on all the negative things that we feel have taken place.
I am convinced that if we all can be in the moment and savour the scenes that make us smile or even bring us to tears of joy or compassion, we will be a much more contented and fulfilled society.
Fleeting moments of perfection for me:
- Watching a small child so wrapped up in its own world
- Listening to a piece of music that captures my soul.
- Watching a young person engaging with a much older person
- Walking in an earth- scented forest
- Listening to birdsong on waking
- Looking at flowers (just try looking for a few minutes- They represent all that is perfect in nature)
- The moon
- The sunset
- Walking on a beach
- Animals (they always seem to live in the moment)
- Train staff who go out of their way to help my Mother with her journey (it’s a recent fleeting, heartwarming moment that I was witness to).
So, it seems that we are complicating our lives by expecting too much. The above can be shared by all of us, there is no rationing of these scenes.
We can talk ourselves into moods by blaming; blaming is a favourite pastime of human beings and serves no other purpose than to anger and frustrate us, but also to potentially damage our relationships. Often we invite negativity into our lives, and because ‘like increases like’ (an important aspect of Ayurvedic philosophy), the more we view something as negative, the more we invite further negativity into our day.
Take a day out of your week and try to understand how events transpire. If something negative happens (or at least you perceive it as negative), how does that determine how the rest of your day takes shape? The chances are that if you decide a situation was negative and you blame somebody else for it, the rest of your day will be filled with further blame- producing moments. Conversely, if you see the positive aspects of a situation, and take the focus away from the negative, you are likely to have a much more positive outcome to your day.
It is the same with memories. We can decide to hold onto the negative moments in our lives and allow them to continue to influence us, or we can accept them as events that shaped our current selves, and indeed were of eventual benefit.
Our families, our careers, our bodies, our faces or our holidays are neither perfect nor imperfect, they just ARE. If we don’t like what they are, perhaps we need to look at what we would want to change about them. The likelihood is that it is just a matter of changing how we view them. The media has a huge role in this, but the media creates much that is a figment of its own imagination, providing fuel to the notion that elusive, desirable perfection is the key to a better life.
Celebrity Culture creates an idea of perfection that lodges itself into the impressionable minds of many young (and not so young) people. It leads people to believe that those who are known to the masses through their exposure in the media (Celebrities) are leading perfect lives and the rest of us are lacking. We read about their relationships, their weddings, their homes, their holidays and their bank balances, and we try to emulate them in the hope that our lives will be as rich and seemingly perfect as theirs. We are somehow shocked when their marriages fall apart, when their partners cheat on them, or when they become addicted to alcohol or drugs. We wait with bated breath to read that they have found love again, or solved their addiction problems. It seems we cannot bear the thought that the perfect life they clearly seem to have and that we strive for, could be crumbling before our eyes. We take it personally, for there is an expectation of them to stay on the Yellow Brick Road to salvation, so that we may try and follow in their footsteps.
I would go as far as to say that Celebrity Culture is bad for our health, both individually and collectively. We have created a ‘Them’ and ‘Us’ society, the former made up of all the famous perfect -lifers, and the latter made up of those of us who find it difficult to swallow the ‘ordinary mortal’ pill. The more we idolise and deify famous people, the more we are likely to end up with a society that cannot cope with what it sees as imperfections. The long term consequences of this could include a huge rise in depression and stress- related disorders.
We are all human, we are all perfectly fine as we are, and life is the richer for its ups and downs. Our lesson is to always take the positives out of all situations we are faced with and to remind ourselves that the perfect moments are never far away.