Wednesday, July 13, 2011
The mental exercise I often tend to not like is "This would be perfect if..." or "The only thing missing is..." Now, don't misunderstand, these can also be great exercises to find story ideas or to fix scenes that aren't working. The problem with these scenarios is they tend to take us out of wonderfully enjoyable moments to focus on what's missing. As a writer, it's a useful tool. As a human being, it's often distracting and sometimes even destructive. Okay, so you might be thinking, can't the what if game have the same pitfalls? Well, probably, but I find the what if game easier to control. It usually comes in quiet moments not in the middle of having a fun time or exploring a new experience.
Recently while I was in Florida, the second mental exercise kept interrupting my fun. I became quite annoyed with myself because before we arrived I vowed to myself that I was going to live in the moment so I could just enjoy each moment as it came. For the most part, I did. When these fleeting thoughts would interfere, I'd mentally ask them, "Really? It seems fabulous right now. Do we really need perfection? And would that really bring perfection or just a whole different set of circumstances to ponder?" Usually this worked to bring me back into the present moment.
I had one full day in Miami. It rained the entire day. Now, at first I was bummed. Then I stepped outside. Yes, it was raining, but it was warm out. I wasn't freezing like I would've been in Oregon. Yes, I would've preferred to see the sun and feel its warmth on my face, but rain what was I got. I could whine about how the day would be perfect if only the sun would shine or I could embrace the moment and enjoy it. I chose to do the latter. Okay, it took me a few minutes to get there. After all, it wasn't what I'd planned. Did that really matter? No, it didn't. I had two choices, enjoy what was in front of me or mope about what wasn't.
There were other "perfect if" moments throughout the week, but I let go of them more easily than I have in the past. So, while it's not perfection, I'll take it. Hopefully, it'll be even easier next time to just enjoy the moment and stop worrying about what would make it perfect. I plan to practice every day.
Every time I have a "perfect if" moment, I'm going to pause for a moment to figure out if I'm just sabotaging the moment or if there is really something that needs changed. I've found that most of the time, the answer is that the moment at hand is "perfect enough" if we let it be.
So here's to "perfect enough" moments and the smiles they bring!!
T. L. Cooper grew up on a farm in Tollesboro, Kentucky. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Eastern Kentucky University. Her poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared online, in books, and in magazines. Her published work includes a novel, All She Ever Wanted, five books of poetry, and a book of short stories. When not writing, she enjoys yoga, golf, creating plant-based recipes, and traveling. Currently, she resides in Albany, Oregon.