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Fifteen Years to Perfection


If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be. ~Yogi Berra

In his book titled Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman raised the question, If you could define your perfect life 15 years from now, how would it look? Before I was able to ponder the question of the painting on that canvas reflecting my view of perfection, an image immediately came to mind as to how I would not like my life to look 15 years hence. That image was of a me sitting on a beach at the edge of a vast sapphire ocean, waves gently lapping the shore, my toes dug into the cool sand being washed over by the salty water forming little pools in the depressions of the sand formed of my feet, watching the glowing tangerine sun dropping below the horizon and, metaphorically, setting on the waning years of my life.

Don’t get me wrong. I love sitting in an easy chair watching the sun take its daily bow particularly when the smell of water is in the air and I am savoring a lovely glass of bold red wine. I have done that and experienced a deep stillness in my soul, felt an incredible calm in the pulsating rhythm of the waves, felt completely at peace as the gentle breeze caressed my body scattering the flitting insects.

There are two glaring problems with that seeming idyllic picture. The first is that it is too sedentary. I am an active person, always have been an active person, can’t see me ever being other than an active person. I simply cannot envisage myself experience contentedness, let alone being happy, living a life style devoid of vigorous activity. I am a doer. I ride bicycles. I fish. I referee soccer. I walk in awe at the marvel of God’s creation.

The other and more disturbing feature of the image is that there is a chair next to me, an empty chair set in the sand next to mine close enough that I could reach over and caress my partner if she were sitting next to me. It is not a hopeful chair expecting someone to watch the sun set with me. It is a mocking chair, a chair that, by virtue of being empty, is taunting me and my desire to travel the golden years of my life with a loving partner. The empty chair is reminding me that every intimate relationship I have ever had has ended leaving a void in my heart, is reminding me that I have difficulty connecting with people on a deep and meaningful basis over a sustained period of time. I have close friendships for a season but those seasons pass and my foot impressions on the beach are of a person traveling alone for most of life.

I seem to have been alone, if not physically alone, emotionally alone for most of my days. I do enjoy my solitude. I am comfortable with myself, with my thoughts, with introspection. I am comfortable in solitude but not content. I want to have the relationship I saw daily in the lives of my parents, the relationship they enjoyed in their twilight years.

In fifteen years I want a person who is my best friend who, after a day exploring new lands, after a week camping in the wilderness, after a year which found us in a new country every few months, who, at the end of the day, holds my hand as we sit on the beach and watch the sun rise to a glorious new day, a day filled with promise, a day filled with hope, a day filled with adventure, a day that is perfect. Not perfect in that there are no mishaps, no sadness, no struggles, perfect in that each is shared with that one person with whom I share a common heart.

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