Part twelve in a series.
The focus for week 10 of "Mental Muscle" Spiritual Boot Camp was perfection and perfectionism. James asked Boot Campers to keep a daily list of why we view ourselves as either perfect or imperfect, and also asked that we examine whether or not we are perfectionists.
One of the concepts I'd deeply understood from Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth" is that whether I am perfect or imperfect has nothing to do with physical form and everything to do with the core, or essence, of my spirit.
The question of whether or not I am a perfectionist was an absolute no-brainer to answer. The answer is 'no' and I have Barbra Streisand to thank for that.
I have been a student of her artistry and career since I was about 7 or 8 years old. Paying attention to a woman known to record multiple takes in an effort to get a single phrase in a song "perfect" (by her standards), or design rooms where the flowers outside the window match the color of the furniture inside, has shown me what true perfectionism is. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I am not a perfectionist.
When it came time to make my first list of why I am perfect or imperfect, I stared at a blank piece of paper for what felt like forever. At the very least, I thought I would have come up with countless reasons I am not perfect, but even that list wasn't coming to me.
The only thought that came was, "If everything is as it's supposed to be in any moment, all the time, then that must mean everything is always perfect! Good or bad."
Throughout this series I've written ad nauseam about blocks, walls, fears and boundaries. This time, I didn't sense fear stopping me from examining my ideas on perfection. I just felt neutral to the whole idea and was actually very happy about it. I interpreted it as a sign that the "Mental Muscle" teachings are beginning to take serious effect. It felt fantastic that I didn't immediately go to a punishing zone of why I'm so flawed!
Still, James wanted a list from me. Between the fact that I didn't have one and other Boot Campers were saying things like, "I'm perfect because I'm here" or "I'm perfect because I know the truth in every moment," James seemed a little frustrated.
"I don't want you to give me the 'Science of Mind' crap!" he said, to much surprise. He qualified that by saying, "Of course, I believe in the teaching profoundly, but that's not what I'm looking for right now. I want someone to say, 'I know I'm perfect because yesterday I ran a mile so fabulously, I could feel perfection in me.' That's the kind of answer I want to hear!"
With that, I understood I was reacting to the question of perfect or imperfect intellectually, not emotionally. Given the emotions that have been pouring out of me for the last ten weeks, this was a surprise. I explained to James that "perfect" is a word I have only used to describe situations. I've never said the words, "I'm perfect," but I know I've said "I'm not perfect" countless times!
"Let's face it, we're not accustomed to using the word 'perfect' to describe ourselves," said James. "As far as situations go, they're only 'perfect' because of the energy we bring to them, regardless of the conditions."
I saw the truth in that statement this week. For the first time in years, I went out dancing at various clubs with a group of friends. As I've gotten older, I've had a tremendous amount of judgment and apprehension about the "club/bar scene." Much of that was based in self-perception of not being "perfect body beautiful" or putting too much expectation on meeting someone special.
Through Boot Camp, I am clearer that the only person who can judge what is perfect or imperfect about me is myself. Stating the obvious, my idea of perfect may be considered imperfect to someone else and vice-versa. In going out, I made a conscious choice to release and forget all internal and external judgments and just have fun!
Making such a concrete decision set the tone and was exactly what James means when he says we bring perfection, as energy, to a situation. When I saw people making out on the dance floor, I didn't feel jealousy or envy as I normally might. I stayed happy and kept dancing. I'd almost forgotten how great it is just to dance! The entire evening with my new "pack" made me feel energized, safe, accepted, wanted and loved. It doesn't get more perfect than that!
Two days later, James reinforced the idea of perfection as energy. During his weekly talk to The NoHo Arts Center for New Thought, he told a story of how he'd recently met a man diagnosed with cancer.
Ten minutes later, he revealed that the man he met was himself.
James wasn't trying to fool the congregation with clever wordplay. As he continued to speak, he was very clear that he feels he "met himself" in the sense that he came face to face with everything he's believed for 25 years.
He's given permission for me to write about his display of transparency and I'm grateful, because it was unlike anything I've ever experienced. James had no fear or sadness in speaking about his diagnosis or what he is about to go through. As a result, there was little to no fear or sadness created in his audience. His humor and matter-of-fact acceptance of the situation through his unshakable faith created a palpable collective energy among all present. I could not remember a time where I felt, so innately, that I was exactly where I belonged.
For weeks now, James and others have been telling me how fearless they feel I've been with this weekly exploration of what goes on in my mind. I haven't known how to react when I hear it. Despite the fears I have, for some reason, sharing the most painful aspects of this journey with the world hasn't felt scary at all.
As James spoke, I understood what he's been trying to tell me. While the circumstances are certainly different, his power in revealing himself through the truth is the same as what I have been doing with these blogs. For the first time, I saw myself mirrored in James Mellon, a man I love and admire tremendously. The example he sets is "divine perfection."
I turned to my friend Barbara seated next to me. Tears were streaming down my face as our eyes met. I told her, "These are not tears of sadness." Barbara said, "I know they're not. You get it!
I do get it, and that's perfect.