Newsflash: Life is Messy

We’re probably mature enough to realize that life doesn’t always move in a straight line. Despite our best intentions and well laid-out plans, there are bumps, hardships — things we wouldn’t have chosen if we could help it.

Being mature is part of handling it all, a chosen behavior. Being human is another. While we’re unlike any other creature in our ability to dream and create, we’re also inescapably wired to want to save face. Resist vulnerability. Sidestep pain and expedite results.

Newsflash: Life is embarrassing, humbling and painful. Proceed with patience.

It’s becoming increasingly common to eclipse the “humanness” out of daily life. We want to see the latte art, not the sticky mess of hot milk and coffee grounds. Give us that curated shelf, not the mounds of laundry spilling out of the closet. We’ll take an inspirational quote over the honest, maybe even long-winded, answer of a friend.

Focusing on the good and noticing the beauty surrounding us is not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong here. However, in our quest for such beauty, in our pursuit of the realization of the ideals we hold dear, I worry that we’re programming ourselves to only recognize only one kind of perfection. The clean kind. The easy kind. The kind where we don’t need to get too involved because we don’t want to risk offering more than we’ll get back. And in doing so, we’re robbing ourselves. We’re robbing ourselves of what beauty represents and how deep it really sinks, dulling ourselves down in the process.

Think about it. Everything that’s necessary for life and that colors the world in which we live in requires a certain degree of ugliness, disorder, chaos in its initial stages. A garden starts as dirt. A coastline juts raggedly into the sea. Even life begins with a birth that is anything but quick, clean and painless.

So, why does the mess give us pause? Why are we hesitant to open up and share in the mess—especially our own—with others? Is it because we don’t think there is a way out? Are we afraid that we’ll get stuck somewhere we don’t want to be? That we should have no part in failure of any kind?

Do we really want to be men and women without crags of our own? Without those unexpected chisels and carvings that, though painful, have set us apart in a way that enables us to connect more fully with others? Because that’s what our rough patches can yield, if we let them. The barren, unkempt places in our lives that we’d rather no one see, are precisely the spots where life, purpose and beauty are truly found when we tend to them, when we dare enter into the mess with each other. We can’t be afraid of how long it’ll take, what will be required or what the outcome will be. We cannot control our lives, remember?

Mess is only natural because it helps us remember to polish patiently.

Words by Nicole Ziza Bauer

Featured image by Janel Kilnisan

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