Is “Broken” Really Not Broken At All?

Los Angeles most certainly has its “pot holes” but as large cities go,  it is quite a place to live. Here are just a few of those lovely perks Los Angelenos are privileged to enjoy: easy access to the beach – just 15 minutes from my front door thank you very much, a dozen plus movie theaters with stadium seating,  a plethora of multileveled shopping malls, endless grocery/supply stores, and of course, Hollywood entertainment! Los Angeles isn’t only about the fun though; it has plenty of schools, parks, educational programs, hospitals, and resource centers making it quite the eclectic living experience. There is a shadow side of course, and like singer/song writer Shawn Mullin laments, “She’s seen her share of devils in this angel town.”  A city lives and breathes like the people in it, and like all people, it possesses qualities of both light and darkness – angels and devils. LA’s shadow self reared its ugly head just 3 days ago when I discovered that one should never attempt to drive opposite a utility truck while moving down an impossibly narrow street. Ok, this might not be dark in the absolute sense, but when you lose an expensive mirror to a giant motor bully all because the city refuses to widen the ridiculously narrow street, you feel the pain. Here’s the thing though, I didn’t lose the mirror completely i.e. it didn’t shatter to pieces. Hearing that unmistakable “thud,” I immediately parked my car and inspected the damage (in case you were wondering, the utility truck was just fine.) My initial discovery was grim; the mirror was cracked in several key places and dangling from the frame. At first glance it seemed irreparable, for how could a cracked dangling mirror ever be restored without resorting to costly services? Studying the frame a little closer I discovered that though certainly damaged it was not beyond repair. I immediately grabbed the mirror and began matching the pegs on its back to the holes inside the frame’s hollow. To my delight (and the delight of my checkbook,) despite a few broken parts I managed to restore the mirror to a functional position. This experience got me thinking, how often do we write something (or someone) off simply because it (he/she) possesses a few “cracks?” How often do we negate ourselves because of a faulty self assessment derived from unrealistic expectations? Here’s the problem, we believe that perfection (a perfect mirror) is actually attainable. We have fallen into the delusion that 100% actually exists! More than 300 years ago, the famous Kabbalist, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, wrote in his magnum opus, Sefer Tanya, that the majority of human failure lies not in setting the bar too low (“I am nothing,”) but setting the bar way too high (“I must be perfect!”)We erroneously expect from ourselves, and others, perfection and when that impossible standard is not achieved, we chalk it up to failure. Can there be a more injurious perspective? Try out this philosophy instead; all of reality (including ourselves) is by Divine design shattered and we, as spiritually minded human beings, are charged with the sacred task of putting together the broken shards. In other words, expect brokenness (imperfection) but aim to restore the “dangling mirror” to the best of your ability. There may still be a few visible cracks when all is said and done, but that’s not what you need be concerned with. Concern yourself only with the task of using your every skill to do your very best and trust that in the end, your contribution will matter. Bottom line; aim for perfection but expect imperfection, you will be amazed just how far you can go. We all have broken pieces to contend with and we can never attain the imaginary state of “absolute” i.e. perfection – a perfect mirror. What we can do however, is aim to take our brokenness and make it work to the best of our ability. This perspective is termed in Kabbalah, “a whole and it’s half.” Namely, aim for wholeness (100%) in attitude, intention, and desire, but know, you are only ever supposed to be half i.e. imperfect. I say, thank God for that, for if perfection/wholeness were actually attainable, our existence would be lackluster, if not all together sterile. It is precisely our imperfections that give us room to grow, reach higher, and dream. So now, get going and go be perfectly imperfect.

Victory Is Just 3 Steps Away