Nothing alive is ever perfect. The Platonic ideal of a circle is perfect; a living being is a turbulent system of growth and decay. There is elegance in our form, but being alive and embodied is a complex experience. Incarnation places a paradox at our core: because of my body I am able to express a limitless supply of creative energy but, also because of my body, my expression of this energy is inherently limited. Within this mysterious state of being alive, we are also made hosts to an ocean of feeling—currents with distinct qualities, temperatures, and direction, all moving together in waves within us. Just like the moon pulls on the body of the ocean and their relationship keeps the ocean in rhythm and motion, the tension of this deep paradox pulls on our emotional body, keeping our rhythm and motion.
For many of us, one of the feelings that spins out of this tension is a longing for perfection—for becoming perfect, for making the ideal manifest through us. Where does this longing come from? Due to the limitations of being in a mortal body, many of us have a sense that things are not okay as they are—not good enough, not efficient enough, not beautiful enough—a sense of being flawed and being responsible for making all necessary improvements. Like the natural forces of water, this sensitivity is responsible for elegant expressions of beauty, genius, and service, but it can also be quite destructive. The pressure of perfectionism can collapse the human heart if there is nothing in place to temper its intensity.
Another source of this longing is social. Our toxic culture reinforces dangerous perfectionism by insisting that we must produce, perform, and consume in order to belong: we must become perfect subjects, perfect commodities, perfect brands. Without endlessly improving ourselves, we’re told, we risk rejections that leave us without an identity or a safety net.
About the spell
The spell for this month has multiple interpretations. With it, we encourage you to collaborate with the imperfections of incarnation and to allow your essential vitality to emerge. We also offer this spell as a reminder that when we single-mindedly pursue any kind of goal—being the “best” at what we do, having the “healthiest” body, or even acting with wisdom and integrity at all times—we are teaming with death over life. We are pursuing a form that has no capacity for breath or growth—we are ignoring the flows, the ebbs, the rhythms of living in favor of some ideal, fixed state that we cannot stay in, and that wouldn’t satisfy us if we could. In working with this spell, we work with chaos and mystery, with process and discovery, with all that we cannot control or predict.
Having a body means experiencing intensity in some way. Death and the fear of death is a universally intense experience to grapple with and, unacknowledged, it masquerades as a fear of life. With this spell, we honor our sensitivity to timeless ideals as we pursue the real, living beauty of mortal life.
Meditation on the Pursuit of Perfection and the Pursuit of Death:
Wherever you are, please begin to notice your breathing. Feel it expand and contract within you—notice where in your body you feel the inhales, and the exhales. Then, with an easy focus on the exhale, encourage a feeling of settlement in your seat or you feet, in your bones, and in the spaces between. As you settle, see if you can settle in to your as-is-ness. Can you meet yourself without judgment? If that feels easy, simply settle in to that fluid state. If not, notice how your thoughts attach qualities to what you notice about yourself—the too-much or not-enough’s, the pride, the shame—all ideas about who you are. If you imagine all these different qualities as separate currents in an ocean, you can look at yourself again and this time try to see yourself as the whole ocean—can you catch a glimpse of the private feeling of being bigger than all these changeable qualities? You may even listen for the sounds of the sea, its sloshing and its breezes, and let those sounds drown out the words in your mind that you so often use to understand yourself. For as long as you’d like to, establish a sense of familiarity with this ocean self…. Make it a kind of home. Then, you may notice what it feels like in this ocean of self to consider the pressure to be perfect, to be the best. What would a perfect ocean look like? What could possible make an ocean *more* perfect? Again, practice watching what happens in your body when you sit with these questions. Study the changes that happen within you, making notes for later, tracking the visions and thoughts and feelings while suspending the interpretation. See how you cling to it, and then, again, surrender the interpretation. To close the meditation, return your attention to the sensation of breathing. And for at least the rest of today, when you start to feel a constriction around your breathing, remind yourself of that ocean of feeling. Let your focus and your drive be powered by the whole. Then, when you have reached the limit of what you can do, you have something to surrender to.
About the painting:
Corina: I had so much fun with this one. This spell is one I need in my life, especially when we’re deep in our artistic process and keeping an eye on deadlines and worrying about coming up with something impressive enough for everyone who’s come to expect good things from us. Whenever I started to get too fussy or anxious about the composition, I’d have the message right there reminding me to let go and let it flow.
Jocelyn: This painting was a pleasure to create—its medicine is potent in my life. It feels as though, through painting it, I’ve made a place inside my body that has these colors, this translucence, this calmness and sturdiness. This image reminds me of surfaces in my mother’s home, my sister’s home, my own home. On many levels, it holds an aesthetic we all share.
This month's offerings:
We've got a sale going on this image for the whole month of September! Buy a print of Pursuit and get 15% off, using the coupon code PURSUIT.
We’re still hawking 2019 Calendars on the internet this month - you can order your calendar here!!