Walking Away From Perfection And Success

Pema Chodron said,

“As long as our orientation is toward perfection or success,
we will never learn about unconditional friendship with ourselves,
nor will we find compassion. ”

I cannot help but understand these words.
And I cannot help but feel
The way that my heart aches,
And the tears that my soul cries,
When I look around and see
People all around me
That don’t understand these words
At all.
That think these words
Are wrong.
A lie.

After all,
The American Dream
Is for success.
To be successful in life.
To make a lot of money.
To have a great big home.
To have a job
That pays a lot.
So you can buy
Anything you want.

The Christian Dream
Is to be perfect
Is it not?
To be like Jesus was.
Following the ways of God.
And helping each other
To be that way.

There are other dreams
That people have
That I’ve met in my life.
They all say the same thing.
They all follow
The same plan.
The same framework.

If you work hard enough,
And long enough,
You’ll earn the dream you want.
And if you haven’t
Reached that dream
And you’re not happy yet.

It’s all your fault.

So you have to be punished.
And deny both who
And what you are.
And put more time and effort
Into making the dream you have
Come true.

I got laid off
Back in July
Of 2011.
And everyone was sad.
And apologetic.
“We’re sorry to hear that, Mark.”

“But you’ve got skills.
And talent too.
And if you go out
And look for work
We’re sure you can find a job
That will pay you
What you’re worth.”

And I couldn’t help but feel
That no one would believe
That I could settle for
Any job at all
That wasn’t like the one I’d had.

And there were a lot of people
That I used to know
That were very much surprised
When I went to work part time
In a job that pays
Much less than I used to make.

To them,
It was very sad.

It is for them
That my heart aches
And my soul
Cries tears of pain.

For they don’t understand
The words that Pema Chodron said.
And they still chase a dream
That just can’t be obtained.

Happiness comes from inside.
It doesn’t come at all
From fulfilling a dream.
From searching for success
In the world that I live in.
From punishing myself
For being imperfect
And flawed.

Happiness, I’ve learned
Comes from within.
From knowing who
And what I am.
Knowing I’m imperfect
And forever flawed.
And learning not to be afraid
Of the reality
That I will make mistakes.
And my mistakes
Will not be the end
Of me.

For me,
This turned the world
Upside down.
And success for me has now become
Remembering
That I can always smile.
And learning
Day by day
What it means to care
About the people that I love.
The people that I call
My friends.

And how to care for them.
Helping them to face the things
That they are afraid of.
So that they can find their smiles
Again.

And I know that I will find a way
To write more words
In the coming days.
Because I want to help
The people around me
Learn what I have learned.

That the fear that I once had
Of not being successful
In this world
We all live in
Was just flat wrong.

That my fear is not a warning.
Instead,
It is a signpost.
Set along the path
That I am meant to walk.

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