With Out Perfection

Elizabeth Bravo

West Bend, United States

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15″ × 15″ Mixed oil and acrylic on canvas.

As I look at a table filled with glasses
Not a coaster in sight
I realize, it doesn’t faze me
Not anymore
I’m not sure when it became “OK”
Ok, to see the stains on the carpet
They’ve become part of the pattern
It’s hard to tell if they’re stains or flowers
Maybe it’s my eyesight
Failing as I get older.
But I do see it
I see it all
I see the piles of laundry
In a mountain of dirty and clean
There is no separation
So we just grab what smells ok
And rewash what seems to be wrinkled
Beyond recognition
It becomes a ridiculous game trying to match the socks
I think about putting an add on match dot com,
Desperately seeking single tan polyester sock,
All others need not apply.
Then there’s the issue of the fur.
My cats seem to have a factory
Making fur is a constant production.
It floats like clouds
A constant breeze at floor level
Keeps the fur moving like ghosts in and out of sight.
I start to imagine
Families of rats hidden in corners
Knitting sweaters for their young
The fur is so readily available
It must seem like a wonderful store to them.
When I finally have a moment to do something,
I collect what I can manage of the fur remnants
For a second I feel guilty.
Will the rats have enough?
Maybe I should put what’s left out for the birds.

When did it change?
I wonder……

I remember the look in my sister’s eyes
She warned me not to set out on a quest for perfection
She warned me that the act of pleasing
Would never end
It was a burden I would carry
A heavy burden she would say (all knowing)
And even though she was only 8 years older,
I could see how it was wearing on her
You’ll try to put it down she would tell me,
Over and over,
But perfection is hard to put down
I heard her words, but didn’t heed them,
I remembered the love
Shining like diamonds
In my parent’s eyes
When I pleased them
Nothing else seemed to matter.
But even then as they looked at me
With proud smiles
I knew that I would have to turn around
Turn around and face the enemy camp
My other siblings were right behind me
My quest for perfection made them look bad
They would sneer and throw daggers
That pierced my heart
Even when I started to understand
How impossible it would be to keep up with it
I carried on
I carried perfection into adult hood.

As the years passed,
I took pride in this impossible task
Perfection as an adult meant
You were a juggler of knives
People were always amazed at my skill
I could throw at least 10 in the air at a time.
Juggling and juggling as my friends looked on
They would even ask me to teach them
So I did, but that added another knife,
I didn’t care,
I knew what I was doing.

The first time I dropped a knife I ignored it
I didn’t get cut and no one seemed to notice
But soon all of the knives would start to fall
Cut after cut, I would pick them up again
It was the most difficult time of my life
With every knife I dropped,
I was handed two more
They lay on the floor around my feet
Now and then I was able to pick a few up again.
Juggling and juggling
For the first time I understood
How one could find themselves out on the street
With out a home, with out a job
They were all people who stopped juggling.
At least that’s what I thought….so…I kept juggling.

At one point I didn’t care anymore
I had to stop.
The exhaustion was overwhelming.
I finally let go.
The knives lay at my feet
A reminder of every failure in my life.
I sat there for days waiting for the doorbell to ring
I knew someone would surely show up and take my life away.
I would lose my family
And everything I held dear.
But as days turned into months,
I realized
No one was coming.
God was not going to send the anticipated bolt of lighting.
And every day that the sun rose up into the sky,
I realized I had a chance to keep going.
Not to juggle, but to just move forward.

Those days are hazy in my memory,
But I do remember moments.
I remember the amazing silence.
I sat for hours on the couch,
Just listening to the soft snore of my cats
When I ate, food tasted better.
When I sent a note to a friend,
They seemed to know not to expect anything else from me.
It was a revelation.
I couldn’t believe that my world didn’t end.
Everyone around me just seemed to accept what I could give.
They didn’t ask for more, because I wasn’t offering.
And then one day I noticed….with a little excitement
That I didn’t mind if the glasses remained on the table
A little longer then they needed to.
I noticed that the rings made a beautiful design.
They added texture to and otherwise boring surface,
I didn’t mind the piles of magazines
Or the mountain of laundry.
I knew I would get to it someday.
For the first time I realized that life would go on
With out perfection…
Just one day at a time
With one foot forward…
As days go by, I see a tee shirt everywhere I go
It seems like an ironic note from God
“Life is good”
I know he’s telling me to remember….
No matter what “Life is good”

Artwork Comments

  • Kate Purdy
  • Elizabeth Bravo
  • Lynn Moore
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  • linaji
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  • Tadoette
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  • Joanne  Bradley
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  • Mary Ann Reilly
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  • Jack Grace
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  • carolsuzanne
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  • Richard G Witham
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