LET’S CONSIDER the classic Rom-Com character montage. In the span of three minutes we witness a spunky heroine progress from disaster to success. Imagine an aspiring cake baker. She dreams of decorating cakes for the biggest and best parties, for the weddings of people outside of just her immediate circle of girlfriends. In her first attempt, we see her in a messy apron with flour scattered in her hair. She looks adorably frazzled, wipes her forehead with the back of her hand and stares off at her caved in cake.
With grit and will in her eyes, we imagine her thinking this cake won’t bake itself so she trashes the first attempt and hits it again. Maybe this time the cake sets but she forgot a key ingredient so must begin again. We see a few minutes of this until the background music reaches an unmistakable climax. The beat picks up. Our heroine is in her stride! Next thing you know, she’s walking the red carpet, making a casual delivery of one of her sought-after cakes to people so famous they only need one name: Oprah, Beyonce and Adele. TA-frikin-DA.
Life is so not like this.
Life is more like the takes in between these monumental scenes. Life is long, drawn out expletives: shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. Life is not knowing about the green speck tucked in between your pearly whites. Life is living in the middle-ground, sometimes without high high’s or low low’s. Life is one day at a time. Life is getting the courage to kill the spider above your bed only to have the carcass fall square on your pillow anyway. Life is messy. Real life is not filtered or hashtagged.
Life is gritty. But only in that grittiness do we also reap authenticity and honesty. We are given the opportunity to lean on each other amidst imperfection.
In the life of my dreams, I’d have the flyest wardrobe, perfect little house full of picture-perfect photos taken only at sunset as I sip champagne with my perfect friends and complete family under twinkly strung lights.
While it sounds nice — and, hey, I wouldn’t mind nights like that every once in a while –this scene removes any need for anyone else. If my life is perfect, who needs friends to lean on during tough times. If life is ideal, where is the challenge, the determination to overcome obstacles, or the opportunity to connect with others over heartache. What are we bound together by then?
By letting life change and mold us, we are only bound deeper together. Let’s allow life to change us, grow us and develop us. Let’s listen with a young ear and share with a wise heart. Let’s let life take us on this raw ride.
There are things in life that happen so out of our control and so out of bounds with what we desire for our lives. For me, it’s my mom passing away eight months ago. The immediate, sucker-punch of losing a loved one leaves us on our knees. The thought of getting back up seems brave in itself, never mind actually doing it.
If I could rewrite my life, my mom would certainly be here with me. She’d be at my brother’s college graduation, at my wedding and steadily by my dad’s side always. But in my longing for my mom, or any desire we may have, I believe that this longing and waiting and wanting is our great unifier. It’s an opportunity to be together. It’s an opportunity to weave your story and mine. As we gather stories and weave more and more of us together with “me too” moments, we create a beautiful, honest tapestry of tears, excitement, journey. The burden of life is divided among many and the joy of life is multiplied to each who lift us up.
We are dynamic and learn in imperfection. Even in our attempts to be authentic and honest we may not get it right. I spent the better part of twenty minutes talking to a — gracious, patient — friend about my mom passing away… in a bar… for another friend’s birthday celebration. Probably not the best time or place. But even in that, my friend stayed. What an opportunity to stand with each other. At picture-perfect birthday celebrations, I wonder if this happens. Maybe. But maybe not.
I am learning to not run away or hide my shortcomings. I am learning that with the right people, the precise right time or place may not be totally necessary. Just an ear and a compassionate heart will do. This is great news! It means that it actually takes very little to support others. It means in our own imperfection, we are not asked to be anything more. To support each other all we need are: 1. People willing to share with trusted friends, 2. People willing to stay and listen. That’s it!
With those pieces, we can weave and create the most perfectly imperfect blanket to cover us all.