There Is No Perfect Life

There is no perfect life.

There is no perfect marriage. There is no perfect family. There is no perfect job. There is no perfect health. There is no perfect house. There is no perfect child. There is no perfect partner. There is no perfect balance.

There is no perfect life.

There are bumps at best and chasms at worst. There are chasms that turn out to be blessings and bumps that bring on irrevocable damage. There are days when you think everything is impossible and you’ve really done it now, the ship is headed for an iceberg and you can’t turn it around. There are days when things are swimming and humming and you’d wear a Life Is Good hat if you had one. There are days when you fall in love with everyone you meet. And there are days when you wonder how it happened that harmony seems so far-flung, so impossible to grasp, that all you can do is cry at the sink.

There is no perfect kitchen. There is no perfect parenting. There is no perfect upbringing. There is no perfect friendship. There is no perfect life.

There are perfect songs, though. There are perfect avocados — for about 20 minutes. There are perfectly beautiful birds and oh, you envy the birds sometimes. This morning, there was a mockingbird on a roll right outside the bedroom window. And you thought to yourself, “a mockingbird on a roll,” and pictured a cartoon of a waiter serving a mockingbird on a roll on a silver tray. Your brain does that.

There is no perfect brain. There is no perfect nervous system. There is no perfect breath. Breathe just breathes. Birds just bird. What if life just lives?

It’s hard to accept imperfection, especially where there is dissonance or discord, when the various people under a shared roof aren’t humming in perfect harmony. There is no perfect harmony. Except damnit, there is and you’ve heard it and you could spend your life trying to replicate it but then you will miss all the other perfect moments that come and go as quietly as all the breaths you don’t notice throughout the day.

Here’s the thing: You can’t fix it, whatever it is, whatever that narrow place, that rock, that hard place, that difficult emotion, that situation that can seem intractable sometimes. You want everyone to be happy and we know how that story goes and never has a happy ending. There is no perfect story. There is no happy ending. There are happy moments.

Where were you all that time you thought you were practicing being present? Some questions have no answers. There is no perfect question that will bring forth the perfect answer as if a wish from a bottle washed up on shore with instructions. There is no perfect book that will serve as a perfect manual. You will get this all wrong ten thousand times and ten thousand more.

And you will still be loved.

You will still be loved.

You will not fall off the edge of the planet. You will disappoint people. You will let down the ones who need you most. You will say the wrong thing. There is no perfect response. There is no perfect outcome. There is this moment. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

And yet in the moment, in the moment when you think to yourself, “I am having a moment,” it’s not simple at all. It’s a storm and you are tossed all about and you know it well but still think this one’s different, this is the one that takes everything down with it.

And then it’s over and the house is still standing and you still love the people you love and they still love you and another day is passing, a day we’ll never get back, a day some people would do anything to have just one more of with the one they love and miss and lost.

You don’t want to lose the people you love. That’s what it all comes down to. There is no perfect way to say this: We will all lose in the end. Every single one of us. How we will live is the only question. And so you said to her, “There are the things we can change, and there are the things we can’t change. What we do with that is everything.”

There is no perfect teacher. There is no perfect program or class or course of action. There is only showing up as honestly as you can. There is moving through the moment and there is resistance and there is fear and there is distance and there is intimacy and there are countless things happening in any given moment. Energy bounces and we absorb and reflect and refract and distort and shine and obscure. It all happens, sometimes simultaneously, too much too fast and you can’t catch it and then later, you look and see how you contributed. You cut yourself some slack, which is better than the alternative.

Breathe.

Write.

8 thoughts on “There Is No Perfect Life

  1. Ingrid Goff-Maidoff says:

    thank you for this piece… it feels like a threshold…a door… to somewhere beautiful, radiant…maybe not perfect…but pretty darn close…

    • jenarschwartz@gmail.com says:

      You’re so welcome! I’m glad it was what you needed. Clearly it was what I needed that day, too, since it just came pouring out after the crying jag at the sink! xo

  2. henry pennyweatrher says:

    yes very well written, very poignant, behind every door there is a book to be written, the book of life, there may be no perfect life , but every life is important, every life has meaning, when we are born into this tumultuous world, we are not given an instruction manual on how our lives should be lived, some people live an honest and hardworking life, others seem to be quite happy to let others do all the hard work, and then take advantage of there goodness and kindness…..here are some of lifes truthful truths…….titled …”Some People”

    “Some people are like clouds. When they disappear, it’s a brighter day.”

    “some people are like rainbows, they shine right through those clouds.”

    “some people will take and take the more you give and give.“

    “some people have a university degree in the art of manipulating others.”

    “some people do not deserve to have loving, caring and devoted mothers.”

    “some people go through their entire lives running away from themselves.”

    “some people make it their life’s work to make others lives unbearable.”

    “some people are like leeches, they will bleed you completely dry, until you have nothing left to give, but still they will come back, KNOCK ON YOUR DOOR and WITHOUT CONSCIENCE, ask for more.”

  3. Hilary Ginsberg says:

    I love this piece , It has so many layers, so profoundly written and I need to pass this on to many others ,plus absorb it myself. It should be read many times over.

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