This week on Steem @tribesteemup asks the question “What would be your perfect day? Are you living it, and if not, why?“
Waking to the sound of Kookaburra and the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee, I step out onto the balcony of my bedroom, where the morning sun’s rays splay out through the trees of the forest that adjoin my rural property. My partner walks in with two cups of steaming hot coffee, and we fall into bed again and make juicy, noisy love…
The rest of the day’s tasks are attended to with ease. I sit at the computer for a couple of hours, writing the words which net me the income needed to sustain my lifestyle. I get out and feed the horse, do some weeding and mulching in the kitchen-garden plot, and check on the animals (sheep/pigs/cattle) that will be going to the butcher for slaughter soon, and refilling my freezer with meat for the winter. I chop some wood for my wood-heater, check the solar-array and wind-generators are working correctly, before getting into my car and driving to town for supplies and a pint or two at the local pub.
Coming home, I cook an amazing meal for dinner, and unwind on the couch listening to some music while playing a game of some sort (video, board, or card). I write some more, and read a book in my favourite chair. I finish the night with a deep, hot bath and a glass of wine, and then snuggle in bed with my partner.
I wake up alone in my own bed, because its 6am and I don’t want to wake my partner up. I drive to work, and can’t believe the road is busy with traffic this early in the morning. At least when I head back home in 12 hours time, peak-hour will be over.
The only sound I can hear is the sound of cars, trains, and trams. It’s funny how the sounds of the city seem louder at this time of the morning.
I’m on the go from the moment I reach work, keeping my client from harm and helping him bathe, eat, and do all the things most of us take for granted. I can get most of my tasks completed before handover, provided we haven’t had to go out to different appointments during the day.
I’m home by about 8:30pm, and honestly can’t be bothered yet another meal, as I’ve been cooking meals for my client all day. If I’m lucky, my partner has cooked and left me something, and I can have a glass of wine, and sit with her for a bit before having a quick shower, and back in bed.
Another stupid day
I'm confused and I can't explain
Why I'm having to run away
And find a new place to stay
There is a stark difference between the two, is there not?
I’m not complaining, mind you. As I contemplated the question, I came to realise something fascinating about this exercise: that my ‘perfect day’ looked almost the complete opposite of my current reality.
And yet, there is no way I could say honestly that I don’t like any aspect of my life as it is presently.
How much of my ‘perfect day’ is actually a conditioned response, rather than what my Core-Self actually requires to feel fulfilled?
I want it all, and I want it now
The problem with perfect
The exercise of getting people to describe their ‘perfect day’ is popular amongst Life Coaches, Psychotherapists, and the sort of folk who want to help people set goals and inspire them to be the best versions of themselves. It was something I was certainly trained to do, as were many of my colleagues; it’s something that nearly every therapist or counsellor has done with me if I’ve ever been to see one. Same with everyone I know.
Everyone I’ve ever met who has done this exercise always describes a life that is the opposite of what they’re currently experiencing. But is this really our ‘perfect day’? My hypothesis is that we imagine scenarios that we think would be the ideal conditions that won’t elicit certain feelings and sensations; in other words what we’re really doing is trying to find a way to access certain states of being that are peaceful, harmonious, and lack the existential anxiousness we think we’re experiencing in the present.
They walk and they talk and they talk all night
to get it right, but inside
They say the grass is greener
On the other side of the fence
— Wall Of Voodoo
These kinds of descriptions are what I call the “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome. If you’re currently experiencing money problem, then ‘perfect’ is having lots of money. If you’re sexually frustrated, then ‘perfect’ is having beautiful, naked women wanting to have sex with you all the time.
The problem is that most of us create a visual representation of what we think will make us happy. We think it’s the setting (the rural home surrounded by trees and Kookaburra), or the lifestyle (working minimal hours from home), or the abundance of time to do pleasurable activities (cooking, playing games, hanging out at the pub, playing with animals, etc).
The problems that in this instance, I have externalised ‘perfect’. That is, I am describing activities, events, or locations to describe my ‘perfect day’. And what usually happens when we do this is that we become bitterly disappointed when we actually attain that reality and realise it isn’t delivering on the promise.
When you are alone at night
You search yourself for all the things
That you believe are right
If you give it all away
You throw away your only chance to be here today
— New Order
Complete, whole beauty
There are a few words in Chinese for ‘perfection’, and their nuances depend on their context and usage. I really like the use of 完美 wánměi, which literally translates as ‘whole/complete beauty’.
My reasoning for this is that ‘perfectness’ for me implies something that has to be whole, or complete; it can’t be missing any bits. And the idea that something is ‘beautiful’ when it is whole is inspired from two very different sources. The first is the Neoplatonist philosopher, Plotinus (204‒270 CE) who wrote that ‘beauty’ could only be described as something ‘whole’, undifferentiated from what he called ‘The Good’, or the 1st Hypostasis of God.
The second idea I am inspired by is the words of first ecological writer, Archie Grey Owl who said (or words to the effect of):
“Everything has its rightful place; and in its rightful place it becomes beautiful.“
Whilst ‘perfection’ is an ideal to strive towards, I’m not entirely certain that we really ever attain such a state, unless we become enlightened sages or bodhisattva. Still, it makes for a great goal to aspire to!
Asleep in perfection
Instead of visualising the external circumstances that we think we would experience should we attain perfection, I always preferred to work with my clients to identify the internal states associated with these abstract visions.
When I run myself through the same scenario, I drop my awareness internally. This usually begins by breathing deeply into the abdomen and feeling my attention drop down to the belly. I know that I am wanting to experience a state, or a feeling — so when I did this with clients, I avoided any language that implied visual or auditory senses.
What I sense in this state is: safe, secure, comfortable, warm, loved, contentment, able, capable, free, easy, effortless, light, open, sated, limber, relaxed….
These are all kinaesthetic or proprioceptive descriptors. Even repeating the words now and typing them out just then, I could literally all these in my body. If I wanted too (and I do), I could anchor each of those sensations somehow, and then ‘stack’ them to create a ‘super-state’ that incorporates all of these sensations. What I find is something that is greater than the sum of its parts. I gotta say, as I write this I have already activated that anchored state, and I’m feeling pretty bloody awesome right now…
We’ve got the perfect life… already!
Now here’s the magical part of all of this. Because I have the experience of this internal state of being, I can choose to activate it and experience at any time I choose!!
I can wake up at 6am in my inner city townhouse and feel this state. I can drive in traffic and work with my client all day, washing dishes, cooking meals, answering emails, filling out paperwork all at the same time as feeling perfect.
When we actually twig onto the fact that our ‘perfect day’ is not out there, off in the future, in a different time/place to right here, right now then we actually experience it where ever we are, and whatever we are doing.
Our ‘perfect day’ is today. We just need to undo all the conditioning that tells us who we are and where we are and what we are doing is not perfect, in order to immerse ourselves in the reality that perfection is quite literally an internal, experiential state.
I invite you to experiment with playing with that technique. If you need any help with it, let me know and I’ll guide you to be able to do it (we could set up a voice or video chat if you like).
Take care y’all! 😊🙏🏽☯️