99: My Perfect Imperfect Life

99: My Perfect Imperfect Life

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life

My Perfect Imperfect Life

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

~Abraham Lincoln

A few years ago, I was standing at the barre waiting for my adult ballet class to begin when I heard a voice behind me. “So, do you have this perfect life?”

My first reaction was to wonder who was being asked what I thought was an odd question. Then I remembered there were only two of us in the room. When I turned around, the other woman was looking straight at me.

I had no idea what prompted her question or how to answer. Was she serious? Who has a perfect life? Sure, on occasion I may have said I found the perfect dress or the perfect pair of shoes, but never would I use that word to describe anything about me or my life. I felt a twinge of guilt for somehow giving her that impression.

She watched me. I finally managed to mutter a quick, “No.”

By then the teacher had entered the room and turned on the music to start class. With a sigh of relief, I moved my feet into the best fifth position my untrained body was capable of. But as soon as my knees bent for our first plié I realized my concentration had been hijacked. This woman’s words wouldn’t stop echoing in my thoughts.

I wanted to know how she came up with her very flawed perception. If she knew anything about my life, she never would have had the nerve to ask me that question.

I did my best to continue through the motions until it was time to do our floor exercises in front of the mirror. For a few moments I didn’t see the usual reflection of my older self attempting to use a beautiful art form to improve my balance, posture, and gracefulness. I only saw the little girl whose father died when she was two, the child who walked home from elementary school every day to an empty house, who learned to sew her own clothes to save money, who became scarred from a painful hospital stay.

Perfect. My life had been far from it.

When those memories faded, I was left with a vision of the woman I had become, the woman molded by all those things I considered imperfect. I now saw the woman who had learned to be self-reliant and resourceful, who valued her family and her friends, who didn’t take life for granted. Was that the perfect this woman had detected?

I still don’t know, but I no longer feel guilty or feel like I must keep a running tab of all the difficult times to prove my life isn’t perfect. Though I might still squirm a bit if ever again asked if my life is perfect, I would have a different answer. Because now I see that, despite all its imperfection, it is.

~Marilyn Boone

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