Saturday, February 22, 2014

What's wrong with being broken?

So.... I was in Barnes & Noble last night to see how I could spend some of my Christmas gift card. I found myself perusing some of the usual sections I gravitate to .... medicine, for a book on migraines and found it WOEFULLY lacking. I literally found two books, and one of those was "Migraines for Dummies." I'm not looking for a dissertation and stuff I can't understand, but I need more than that!

Well, one of my other haunts was right across the aisle from that -- "self-help." I have my own self-help library, so I really, really didn't need anything, but there was one book I wanted. I have an e-edition of it that I've purchased (as a PDF), but I love actual paper I can touch, move, flip, mark up. There's something about a real, tangible book that can never be replaced by an e-book. I found the book and then realized I really didn't want it, at least not right at this moment. It wasn't moving me to pick it up and run for the register. So I kept perusing; after all, what's one more self-help book for the library....

But after perusing title after title, I got more and more dissatisfied. Nothing seemed to click. Then it hit me: why should I buy one more book which will tell me that I'm broken and here's what needs fixing and how. I know I'm broken. You are too. So is the Pope. So is the President. So is the person next to you on the commuter train each day or stuck in the traffic jam beside you. We're all broken people.

Maybe we don't need to be fixed.

Now, before I begin, let me say that there are very obvious exceptions to this train of thought: (a) already-diagnosed mental health issues, (b) addiction issues, and (c) abuse issues, whether you are victim, perpetrator, or both. For these situations, if you aren't already getting professional help, do so post-haste. Get out of the self-help section. There's bootstrapping, but these aren't situations that warrant going solo.

However, for those of us with average neuroses .... from "oh God, every pair of jeans in the store makes my butt look 40 feet wide" to "I can't figure out why I can't seem to get happy in my particular place in life" .... maybe we don't need fixing after all. Maybe we need to learn to live in the brokenness, to embrace the lessons within, to live where we are. That doesn't mean we stop trying to improve and do things better in life. It doesn't mean we don't take that fantastic job opportunity that finds us out of the blue. It doesn't mean we don't take a class or improve our health or stop trying to be better .... just that maybe we need to stop overanalyzing every.single.aspect.of.everything. while thinking "I've got to fix all these broken pieces and put them together into a perfectly {there's that word again} planned and designed life...."

We just maybe need to realize that it's okay to be broken. Only Leonard Cohen said it much better:

Ring the bells that still can ring. 
Forget your perfect offering. 
There is a crack in everything. 
That's how the light gets in.

I walked out buying only a book on piano chords. Best money I never spent. And maybe I'll learn to play "Anthem" (the Cohen song) while I'm at it.

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