I injured myself twice, two days in a row, in exactly the same place. That’s not a coincidence, that’s a mental block.
Micah and I were hiking yesterday morning as part of our first day of autumn celebration. And as a way to justify the enormous piece of Dutch Appeltaart we had consumed beforehand. The smell of Speculaas spices (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and white pepper) lingered in our kitchen long after the oven had been turned off. Maybe it was the pie, or our talk of a future trip to the Grand Canyon, but I was clipping along on the trail. Then my hiking boot caught on a tree root and down I went. I used my right hand to stop the fall. My palm was a hideous mess of torn skin, blood, and dirt.
At home I bandaged my wounds. “Only you could single handedly use all those Band-aids your mom gave us,” said Micah of the industrial quantity of Band-Aids my mom gave us years ago. I laughed and put the whole ridiculous incident behind me. Then, this afternoon, I did it again. I was walking to my front door when I failed to clear the step and tumbled toward the concrete. I used the same hand to stop the fall. Inside, I reapplied the Neosporin and Band-Aids trying to understand what the hell was wrong with me. Had I lost the ability to walk?
It’s no coincidence these falls happened as I was becoming more perfectionistic around the book proposal I’m working on. That’s how I respond to stress: I scrub the kitchen counter harder and longer. I tell myself I should re-do my website. I read yet another feminist book on the history of the Goddess. Because I have to be perfect before I do what I feel called to do. My perfectionism is a way to try and control the situation because, the truth is, I’ve become fixated on my inadequacies. I believe they’re hurdles I’ll never overcome. Until, finally, I started manifesting my self-inflicted wounds by tripping on hurdles in my path.
The divine offers a balm for these wounds. She invites us to let go, which means doing the opposite of whatever our inner critic would have us do. Rather than clean, we rest. Instead of beginning from scratch, we decide that what we have is enough and keep going. And since there will always be another book to read or class to take, we decide to do something completely superfluous and entirely necessary, like going on an artist date. In these moments of play and rest we discover the answer to all our problems: we already have everything we need to get over that hurdle we thought we’d never overcome. Or, we discover a way around it.
Perfectionism requires an industrial size quantity of Band-Aids. Whereas letting go is the way of grace. Her yoke is easy and Her burden is light.