My doctor is on blood pressure meds. I once went to a brilliant therapist who smoked. I’ve walked into people’s homes who I thought were way more together than me and been greeted with clutter and dust. Some of the music that touches me most deeply is by artists who were hopelessly addicted to some form of drug.
They’re all imperfect. They’ve all made my life better.
This is what I thought of when I read a piece in last week’s New York magazine about John Friend, “one of yoga’s biggest innovators” who came tumbling off his pedestal recently “in the aftermath of allegations about sex, financial mishaps, and drug use.”
“Friend is embroiled in the biggest yoga scandal of the past decade, involving wholesale defections and the collapse of his empire,” writes Vanessa Grigoriadis.
I had never heard of Friend until reading this article, but it sounds like he was inhabiting a -- self-created? -- world that fancies itself disciplined and compartmentalized. However, it’s pretty likely that the yoga I started enjoying in the past year traces itself to this man’s work.
Yet another example of an imperfect -- or perfect in its own way -- life that made mine and others better.
It got me thinking how we might be less inclined to gravitate to “organized” religion in America these days, but we’re still attracted to a mass message that gives us a glimmer of a clue about how to deal with all the stuff that comes up in our lives. Whether it’s the experts assembled on television to show us how to handle our money, pick out our wardrobes, cook our food and decorate our homes or those with a more soulful or holistic vision for living, we want tips, advice and even some tough love.
On many occasions and for many years, I have been the first one lapping up the stuff of gurus. Or, more specifically, people I’ve appointed as gurus. Show me. Inspire me. Heelllllllllp me. Your canned, branded message is just what I’m looking for, or better yet, it’s what I’m seeking. As seekers, we become pros at yearning, don’t we?
What I’m advocating now, here, is that we recognize that’s what we’re doing and keep it in a place that’s reasonable and beneficial. First, to understand we’re learning from other flawed humans. But also to see that sometimes seeking is a form of procrastination. We know what we need to do and we’re trying to find the courage to do it by seeking out others who have overcome obstacles or pushed through their fear. If that becomes sport, if an inordinate amount of time is spent going outside of ourselves for a push instead of going within, we’re deepening the chasm instead of climbing our way out.
Someone I love told me recently, “You are your best resource.” Seems kind of simple, pat almost. But it isn’t at all. Turning within – OK, maybe after a bit of seeking – is essential in living meaningfully. I could pretend this is a concept I thought of at my keyboard, but then I’d have to hope you never watched The Wizard of Oz or read The Alchemist or been exposed to any number of other works that have the same message.
Again and again, where do we find out the answer lies? Within us. At our source. We had the answer the whole time. The journey that gets us there, well, that’s a whole set of circumstances both within and beyond our control. The best we can do is be aware, read signs and go with a natural flow.
I have been on both sides of this. Call yourself a life coach and watch how people project all kinds of expectations on to you. There have been a few clients whose disappointment was palpable when, after I successfully shepherded them in their goals, they found out I don’t have a perfect life. What I have perfected is making a priority of doing what I love and always, always learning.
That learning comes from others, complete with their imperfections. One of the best ministers I’ve ever heard preach admitted her own shortcomings in her sermons almost weekly and that made her message pack way more punch.
Stories where we potentially see ourselves – good. Glorifying others because of those stories – not so good.
Learn what you can from the imperfect that is all of us. Apply it to living. Let the chips fall where they may.
Nancy Colasurdo is a practicing life coach and freelance writer. Her Web site is www.nancola.com and you can follow her on Twitter @nancola. Please direct all questions/comments to FOXGamePlan@gmail.com.