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The Missing Piece

What if the world can’t ever work perfectly?

What if most of our systems, in all their celebrated glory, could not possibly work flawlessly, not even in the presence of total human participation and compliance?

In other words, things are always going to be wonky at the edges, where ideas and policies are launched into the real world as ‘practice’ and forced to interact with the reality of individual experience on the level that it happens. 

Multiple hands, each holding the piece of a puzzle.

With everyone playing by the rules, with everyone being on their best behavior and as focused and directed as possible toward ‘making things work,’ I believe we would still find our systems to be incredibly flawed.

In fact, I’m not so sure there could ever be a system that just works for everyone. 

Why does it matter to think about this?

For me, I sometimes feel despair over the collective inability of society to get things figured out and working well. When that despair sets in, I begin to look for people (or groups of people) to blame. The ones who are causing “trouble” for the plan.

A row of people, each holding a cutout of a face over their face.

But life didn’t come in a box with a finished picture of what it’s supposed to look like on the lid. There are no die-cut pieces that snap together to form a perfectly shaped masterpiece. No matter how long and hard I kick and scream and fight to make it happen, there are still virtually no straight lines in Nature. Therefore, the human need for order, albeit an understandable part of our makeup, will almost always yield a natural dissatisfaction for what eventually comes to us. This inner dissatisfaction will continue to drive us to correct it. For some, that pursuit will drive them to a kind of madness where they forget what is real (or probable) and begin to live and die by the degree to which their mind’s vision of the world matches the world itself.

That won’t be me any longer. I now know that I need to adjust my expectations, my ideas about what’s even possible, if only to experience some measure of the peace that I believe I deserve. 

Yes, I believe humanity can be (and often is) remarkable, but even at its best, I’ve stopped looking for anything that looks perfect or even ideal. I mean it. I have just stopped looking.

Nothing ever fits perfectly. That’s what’s real. Getting frustrated about that is only going to make its ragged edges seem that much more unpleasant.

A question mark in a speech bubble.

A Few Questions:

  1. What is an expectation you have which seems unrealistic now that you think about it?

  2. How can you adjust your private expectations to improve your quality of life?

  3. Who are some people you know who seem to struggle from a similar problem?

  4. How might you help your people begin to look at things with less rigidity?

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