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When things are perfectly imperfect - part 1

Sometime in high school, I started keeping a diary. At that time it became a place for me to vent and make sense of all my teenage thoughts. But even today, the act of journaling has become a friend who often helps me see things in a new light. The other day I found an old journal entry that reminded me that things don't always have to be perfect in order to be perfect. Quite a few years ago now, I attended a retreat in beautiful Teotihuacan, Mexico. Deep inner work was interspersed with beautiful nature, meditation and Toltec wisdom, all in a wonderful mix. Every morning the group walked to the pyramid area just a short distance away, where we, through various exercises and in the loving presence of the other participants, were invited to meet ourselves and our "stuff" in different ways. One of the last evenings held a ceremony, facilitated by our lovely shamanic host. In the garden where we lived there was a large labyrinth created out of small rocks that were laid out on the grass. We were sitting in a circle around it and in front of us were 28 lit candles, red and white, one for each of us. One by one we were to choose a candle and carry it with us into the labyrinth. We were asked to dream an old dream on our way in (to think of something in our life that felt complete), offer it as a gift in the center of the labyrinth, and then to dream a new dream on our way out (to hold the thought of something we longed for and felt ready to invite). There was anticipation and a sense of reverence in the air. I knew right away which candle was mine, but it wasn't long before someone else took it. I wanted a white candle, but realized it would be a while before it was my turn, so I silently accepted that I would probably get a red one. With four participants left, it was finally my turn and in front of me were both red and white candles. Having held the belief that I would not have to choose, I picked a red one. As I then began to enter the labyrinth, I was startled to discover a dead fly in my candle. That's not how a sacred shamanic ceremony should be! As I slowly walked forward, I discreetely tried to use my finger to get it out, with the only result being a lot of wax on my fingers and a messy candle. The fly remained. I resigned to the idea that this was the way it was, and instead began to hope that none of the others, now standing outside of the labyrinth, would see my smudgy fingers as I walked by.

When I eventually reached the center of the labyrinth, I couldn't for the life of me remember what it was I was supposed to do there. I had totally forgotten the instructions. Self-conscious over the fact that the next person behind me was waiting, I muttered a short prayer for guidance in life as well as help whenever I had wax on my fingers and a dead fly in my candle, hoping there was some kind of symbolism in this that made sense.

Today I can look back on this evening and laugh, but then and there my horror was real and I needed to handle it in myself. We had been given an instruction, there was a plan, and so my conclusion was that there must be a right way and a wrong way to perform the task. But just because we have an idea about something - and maybe even a manual for it - isn't it possible for a different result to be even better than what we first intended?

This blog post is divided into two parts. Stay tuned for the second part coming up in a day or two. And until then, I want to give you a question to reflect on, should you choose to do so: Who decides if something in your life is "right"?



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