Perfect Imperfection

For Writers Island prompt #18:  If Only
http://writersisland.wordpress.com/

This is what I wrote, on the spur of the moment, the last time I was faced with this prompt:

 Circling Flashbacks

Ah yes, those famous “If Only’s.”
Vultures that visit in loneliness
of after midnight hours, trip mind,
pecking to find thickening shadows,
actually cramp bowels of a darkness
long past, dragging out ugly clothes
of yesterday in forever tangled,
jangled fit of disarray.

What awful nurture they provide
for torturous slippery ride
down crooked highways,
slanted byways that move
down and downward,
fast, then faster and only end
at shame and all her wicked
little sisters, twisting moments
until all those nasty whispered
names have been named
and dread must slink away
beneath covers of a bed
no longer comfortable,
but filled with thorns pricking
at thickening shadows and only
words left to be whispered, are
“Aw, If only…

That was on December 5, 2008. I went back in my files because I remembered that I had written a poem in response to those words, If Only. Couldn’t quite remember what it was all about, but did remember that I’d had a sort of negative reaction. Calling them vultures, come to peck at the carrion of past mistakes, is more than a sort of negative response. It is very definitely not a positive in any shape or form.

 So, do I still feel that way? Has anything changed in that almost two year time period. Yes, and no. I still feel that the If Onlies are regrets, more than likely mistakes that can’t be undone. Things, actions, people, that permanently changed, or rearranged life and my existence from what I had known before. And to go back and re-feel my way through them is a waste of time and energy. One that will more than likely end in depression, even possibly despair.

But, that leaves the yes part of the equation, and I did say yes, as well as no. I very recently wrote, on another site, in the comments section, that imagination is a tool meant to enhance all of our lives, not just that part engaged in creative endeavors such as writing, or any other Art. Imagination is the tool of possibilities. If you can see it, it’s possible. And imagination is where we open ourselves up to see other ways and means of looking at what we have defined as impossible.

If only she could, if only he would, if only they were, and if only I had, are all different approaches to the same conclusion: If only the world were a perfect, without blemish place, my life (your life, their lives) could run smoothly and everyone would be happy, right? But, the world is not a perfect place. I think however, it is a perfectly imperfect one.

That built-in imperfection allows things, us, to grow and to evolve. We make mistakes so that we can learn, can change the trajectory, and bring about a new and different outcome. And that change begins in the imagination: that also built-in tool that allows us to see the mistake, the imperfection, and then correct it. And yes, our changes won’t necessarily be perfect, but that just means we will have another chance to grow toward new and different perspectives.

No matter how many regrets and if onlies we might contain, each one will always come back to the me in that torturous downward slide. How can I change my world? What one little thing can I do so that this will never happen in just this way again? How can I change my aim so that it points toward a better outcome, not just for me, but for everyone around me?

We all have some regrets, some places where we solemnly wish that things could have been different, but they weren’t and aren’t, because this world we live in is an imperfect place, one meant to allow us to grow, to change, to become better than we were. One that allows us to stop that downhill slide toward depression and change it to an upward climb toward perfected imperfection.

 
Advertisements

About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here: https://1sojournal.wordpress.com/ http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/ http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in Perfect Imperfection and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Perfect Imperfection

  1. anthonynorth says:

    I tend to agree with you here. If only is really only something I consider when prompted as such. Although they do have a role to play, I think, in analysing mistakes, working out where you went wrong so as not to make the same mistake again.

    Like

  2. Pan/Susannah says:

    I really enjoyed this – I LOVE your descriptiveness and the imagery it conjures.

    “and only end
    at shame and all her wicked
    little sisters, twisting moments
    until all those nasty whispered
    names have been named
    and dread must slink away
    beneath covers of a bed”

    Wonderful! glad to have discovered your writing. 🙂

    Like

    • 1sojournal says:

      Pan/Susannah, have been on your site and liked what I found there as well. Glad to meet you. This poem came fast, if I remember correctly, because I was trying to follow a train of thought about the ‘if only’ prompt and finding only whispers of shame and all her little sisters like regret, guilt, embarrassment etc. And because it got so uncomfortable I got up and got writing. I’m glad you liked it and please come back anytime.

      Elizabeth

      Like

  3. systematicweasel says:

    An excellent post! I agree that this world is place for us to grow and learn, and to keep on learning (as the learning process is never really over). Sometimes it is best to consider the “if only’s” in life, and others, it is best to run with what you have. When I first read the prompt this morning, I thought to myself a very childish saying, “If if’s and but’s were candy and nuts we’d all have a Merry Christmas.” Nothing is perfect, but it is imperfection that we learn most from. Wonderfully crafted! =)

    -Weasel

    Like

    • 1sojournal says:

      Weasel, I’ve never heard that one before about the ‘if’s and but’s’ but I certainly like it. It might be childish, but children have a lot of earthy wisdom that sometimes gets lost in the growing up and socialization processes. That’s one of the reasons I work hard to keep my own inner child alive and well. She is, afterall, my creative source.

      And I also agree with you that the learning process is never done. I hope that I never stop learning until I take my last breath. If there is an afterlife, I want to take as much as possible with me.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments,

      Elizabeth

      Like

      • Mary says:

        Elizabeth, this brought to mind another old adage that I am sure you have heard before. I really like it though: If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride. (It sort of applies.)

        Like

  4. pamela says:

    This is so insightful and I can say from where I sit
    I can completely relate to this!
    Wonderful post thanks for sharing your insight.
    Pamela

    Like

    • 1sojournal says:

      Hi Pamela, am glad you like it and can relate. I really wasn’t sure what to write about this morning and could remember the poem, but only vaguely. Glad I pulled it out and dusted it off. I like the poem and what it says, but I also think its important to go back and reread our old stuff and see if we’ve grown any since last we were in the area.

      Elizabeth

      Like

  5. I agree with you Elizabeth. If only’s are vultures. I wrote a poem last night about optimism and pessimism, and regrets are so pessimistic. I could not find a poem with even one “if only” in it. You are so wise!

    Like

    • 1sojournal says:

      Diane, I’ve been going through the responses and am finding a sort of strange thing. The poems that I really admire, like, and relate to all seem to end with the ‘if only’, as though it were a final conclusion rather than a beginning. And that makes sense to me, as though the writer already knows that the ‘if only’ is just wishful thinking, a dream, or blurred vision that can’t or won’t come true. A sort of salute to what was as one slowly walks away, if that makes sense?

      Elizabeth
      PS. About the wise? I’m an old woman, who isn’t done learning yet, not by a long shot, lol.

      Like

  6. Mary says:

    Elizabeth, I enjoyed both your two-year-old poem and your present reflections. Interesting how a person grows in two years time. I like the idea of changing one’s aim so that one can achieve a better outcome. That makes good use of all the “if onlies” in life.

    Like

    • 1sojournal says:

      Mary, first off, I have to respond to your remark above. I really like that saying and the first thing that went through my head was ‘if wishes were horses’, I wouldn’t be driving a thirteen year old Saturn that is dismembering itself by the mile. I’d be in a wonderfully sleek little sports job and watching my brother-in-law having a kanipshun fit as I roared into his driveway, because he thought I might scrath the back bumper of his brand new truck, lol.

      Anyway, I do agree it does make sense of the ‘if onlies’. I just caught myself in one the other night, thinking about how I’m doing too much of this computer stuff, honestly. Then got up, went to bed and had a very significant dream about losing a poetry notebook, no less. Woke up and knew exactly what to do, after checking to see that I hadn’t actually lost that notebook. I turned an the computer. And had I given in to that ‘if only’ train of thought, I’d have completely missed that image in the last paragraph I wrote to you, and all the laughter it occasioned. Whew!

      Elizabeth

      Like

  7. BJ Roan says:

    As dark as it is, I enjoyed the imagery in your poem and enjoyed your views of if only. Regrets are negative. Asking if only seems to be expressing regret over some perceived transgression or happening beyond our control. We cannot change the past. We can only move forward and try to remain positive.

    Thank you for your comment on mine. I left a response for you. Thanks for bringing the change of voice to my attention.

    Like

    • 1sojournal says:

      Hi BJ, and yes, the poem is dark, I wasn’t feeling too pleased by what was going on as I struggled with trying to respond to the prompt at that time. And amazingly enough I posted it because I rather enjoyed that imagery myself.

      I just sent you an email concerning my comments and will go take a look at your response as well. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond,

      Elizabeth

      Like

  8. vivinfrance says:

    Elizabeth, First, your notes: “Imagination is the tool of possibilities. If you can see it, it’s possible.” I’m so glad you wrote that – the (cliché alert) light at the end of the tunnel. I agree totally with the idea of righting/learning from past mistakes: a kind of mental spring-cleaning, and like radical housework, only to be indulged in (at most) once a year.

    The poem – may be an old one, but it has something valuable to say to all of us. So much so that it has popped an idea into my head. Now I must stop rabbiting on here and away and see if I can write it!
    ViV

    Like

    • 1sojournal says:

      Hi Viv, I’m glad I wrote it as well, lol. It was very satisfying to do. However, I’m thinking you are far more organized than I am. My housecleaning gets done when it gets in the way of the other things I want to do. Once a year? I should be so lucky. Mine comes as it will, and I let it.

      I’ve liked this poem for several reasons. And if I’m honest, I really wanted to give it another chance to see daylight. But, I also like it because I think it was the first time I actually let myself follow the sounds, rather than paying lip service to them as I tried to make sense out of my thoughts. Something I’m doing far more often lately and really liking the results.

      Ahh, so many poems, so little time. Hope you found yours, I found mine.

      Elizabeth

      Like

  9. tillybud says:

    Nicely done, Elizabeth. I like that you bring us up to date with your thinking.

    Like

    • 1sojournal says:

      Thanks Tillybud. I keep a daily private journal, and this blog is sort of a public one (which means I actually edit it, lol). Not every day, and not just prose, but a mix of all things that I’m interested in under the general umbrella of writing. Especially personal writing.

      Elizabeth

      Like

  10. marja says:

    Amen I can’t add anything to it I totally agree. If only does have a feeling of regret but at the same time if gives us direction of where we want to go and can make successive approximations towards it. I think both the poem and proze are excellently written. Enjoyed it a lot.

    Like

  11. wayne says:

    love the opening….lonely…midnight…i think my poem had some of this…..anyways nicely done and well written..thanks for sharing your words

    Like

    • 1sojournal says:

      Well, it seems to me that the middle of a lonely night is when the if onlies hit the hardest and are hardest then to deal with. When there is no one to pat your back and tell you softly that it will all be okay. Thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed it,

      Elizabeth

      Like

  12. Jane says:

    Hi Elizabeth–

    When I considered this prompt, I thought, “This is one I would not choose to do.” Not focusing on my “if onlies” is a very major part of my growth at this point. I agree that one can learn from the past, but the “if onlies” are pretty much always an attempt to change history backwards. This only leads to frustration, anger at self and others, and that downward slide you so eloquently describe.

    When I find myself headed in that direction, I stop and get back to the moment. Sometimes I can recognize the lesson to be learned and move forward, but often I just need to quickly turn to the now.

    Like

    • 1sojournal says:

      Jane, that’s great advice and I know exactly what you mean. It took me a while to even recognize that I was rolling down hill at top speed, let alone what that meant and how to deal with it. And yes, getting oneself back to the present is of prime importance. And I like your phrase “change history backwards”. For me that would be writing it backwards and I just am not that ambidexterous, physically or mentally.

      Thanks again for dropping in and commenting,

      Elizabeth

      Like

    • 1sojournal says:

      Whitesnake, I hope that means you agree with the post. There’s a lot going on in these comments as well. Which I like. However, I’m glad that you find agreement with what you found. It’s importand to find others of like mind and thought. It balances the insanity of always being argued with or having ones opinions dismissed. Thanks for stopping and reading,

      Elizabeth

      Like

  13. auntiequary says:

    I like the image of vultures for “if only” thoughts. “Torturous” describes living a life full of regrets! I feel like it’s good to pause and reflect on the if only, if only for a moment to see if we can learn and grow and not repeat our mistakes. But to dwell in the “if only” is a pecking vulture, a bed of thorns, and all that you wrote!

    Like

  14. 1sojournal says:

    Hi auntiequary, vultures seem to have a particular symbolism for me, and I find that they will occasionally perch themselves in the words of a poem. I respect them, their ability to soar, and make a life from left-overs and other’s garbage. I figure if they want in, who am I to argue. It made sense to make that comparison.

    Thanks for stopping in and commenting,

    Elizabeth

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s