Posted by: seehowfarwevecome | August 14, 2016

Imperfectly Beautiful

August has swung around again, though this time we seem to be treated here in the UK to some actual Summer. Imperfect Summers, with the odd week or two of rain, can still be beautiful it seems.

I find myself heading back to London, following a gloriously sunny weekend in the Isle of Wight with some dear friends and their gorgeous Labradors, Bollo and Boo. We’ve spent the last 48 hours eating food, cooking on the BBQ, walking along the countryside and wandering the beaches, letting the dogs play in the sand and the sea, stopping for the occasional larger shandy. We have whiled away our evenings in the garden watching shooting stars and fireworks with a glass of wine in hand.

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Bollo and Boo – simple, perfect pleasures

It’s been a perfect respite for my Summer cold. London has been hectic of late and I’ve needed a chance to rest a bit. Travel, evenings out and busy days in the office have been tiring me and so a recipe of doggy cuddles, fresh sea and country air and home cooked food has been just what I ordered to offer myself a little respite.

I am choosing to slow down my exploration for a bit. I have found myself growing physically tired of continual re-investment and effort in new people and places and I need a bit of time with myself and my nearest and dearest for a while to just be again. Imperfect, yet beautiful encounters, permeate my weeks. So a weekend on the Isle of Wight has been the perfect launch to just connect with long-held friends and enjoy basic things again. Walks in the country and meanderings amidst the sand dunes have somehow reconnected me with simple pleasures. Beautiful ones.

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Race for Life – at the starting point

My Race for Life was just two weeks ago and I’m so pleased to say that we made it around. I had been training hard for the race, then just a week or so after returning from my last trip to New York in June, I managed to trigger off a problem with my hip that I have had since I was born.  My imperfect hip. I found myself having to cease all jogging, indeed I could barely walk for several days, and I was only able to start swimming again a month or so ago. But the moment I could swim again, was indeed beautiful.

When the race day came, I hadn’t been able to jog for some five weeks, and so I was nervous, and irritated, that I wouldn’t make it around. My imperfect hip, still feeling slightly dodgy, would need to hold up for the race, the race that perhaps I never should have done knowing my condition in the first place but which, given my aunt’s diagnosis and subsequent passing, felt absolutely the right thing to do. A beautiful thing to do that raised more than £700 thanks to generous family and friends.

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Our Race for Life mascot – Tomos – with Louise and I

So race day arrived and the buzz was immense. Several thousand women in pink – setting off with their own purpose and own fund-raising efforts. Kathryn, Louise, Stacey and I all enrolled and the buzz when we all made it through the finishing line was so very worth it. It was a baking hot day, but Hyde Park looked beautiful and I wondered about all those who have passed, no doubt looking down smiling and gracing London with the gift of sun. This imperfect hip of mine had made it around the park beautifully.

Kathryn ran for Julia, her childhood friend who lost her cancer battle just a short while ago. A young woman, in her thirties, leaving behind two children and a husband. We ran for her, and we ran for my aunt. Somehow, my hip put up a fight and let me finish, though now I return to swims and in all likelihood, shall abandon any future jogging pursuits.

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Kathryn and I – racing for life for Julia and Mavis

So with the race for life out of the way, I am wondering about other challenges. I already gave blood this year for the first time, and I’ve booked myself time in Sri Lanka to volunteer with a turtle sanctuary and spend time with some school children. Next week, my team at work and I shall volunteer for Centrepoint, spending an afternoon around London, collecting items and delivering them to the hostels around Soho. Yet still, I feel like I want to do more.

Just this past Monday, I caught up with a former colleague who I haven’t seen for four or five years. Ketan and I worked so closely together for four years at EMI when I first worked there. A lot of the work was tough – it was imperfect – but each day was still beautiful. We did trips to New York together and somehow, lived through several crazy periods of restructuring.

Ketan and I managed to while away several hours last Monday night, and I found myself getting home at 1am having chatted to him as if the last few years were yesterday. I set myself up to feel exhausted all week, but the catch up was so worth it.

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Beautiful August weather on the Isle of Wight

We reminisced and we caught each other up on our lives the last few years. His children are grown up now, and spending their Summer volunteering in Peru. He retold the story of his childhood, the child from India who came to England as a young boy, unable to speak English but who today is a very successful CFO. He volunteers as a School Governor, and told me how powerless he can feel at times to help vulnerable teenagers. He mused about being able to make a difference to some though, and of how much that matters. Imperfect volunteering that still yields perfect, beautiful moments.

I left my Monday evening inspired. The family man with the successful career who balances friendships and voluntary work to lead a fulfilling and rounded life. He’s done his share of travels too. Perhaps, there is even more that I can do. Perhaps I need to think more on that again.

Yet the next few weeks are going to be hectic. Hectic and fun. I fly to Canada next week, for an incredible 11-day trip that I’ve been planning for eight months. Then I am home for a little under three weeks, before I fly to Chicago to speak at a Global HR Conference. From Chicago I shall head back to New York, to see my team and spend a weekend with friends. Things may calm down again around October, or at least I am going to try and let them calm, before my November adventure to Sri Lanka.

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Bollo and Boo enjoy the sea!

Speaking of Sri Lanka, just last weekend I spent an afternoon drinking iced coffee and sitting outside in the sun with one of my oldest friends Kavan, and his heavily pregnant wife Anna. Kavan and I bonded when we were around six years old, and his parents still live down the road from my parents. Incredibly, despite him leaving my primary school when he was eleven years old, we have stayed friends for the last 28 years. Sometimes a year will go by before we catch up, as was the case the last week, but our reconnection is always effortless and full of news in bite-size chunks.

Kavan gave me many tips for Sri Lanka, and we shared stories of the last year or so. He could tell I was in a better place than our last reconnection last Summer. He could tell there was a contentment within me again that had been lost for a while. He could tell that I was ready to explore again, but that I needed a break from it, to just perhaps enjoy my Summer a bit more and go a little more with the flow. He could tell I was getting comfortable with imperfect, that I could find this imperfect year beautiful still.

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Imperfectly beautiful August days

So what of going with the flow? Well, perhaps there are some things in life that are not meant to be perfect. Perhaps the imperfect is the most beautiful. Like beautiful disasters. Perhaps I need to enjoy things less than perfect for a while. Perhaps I am not meant to have everything completely sorted right now. Perhaps I am supposed to be exactly where I am, in my slightly imperfect, yet beautiful existence. Perhaps my imperfect is some other person’s perfect. Perhaps my travel adventures and weekends away are beautiful, even if on some level, I do them to fulfill other imperfect moments in my life.

So all in all, perhaps it’s perfectly fine to explore a little less for a while. Perhaps it’s imperfect, but beautiful to slow. Perhaps a world where I am not running at 100 miles an hour, where imperfect moments are the most beautiful, could indeed be the most perfect place for me to be this August.

 

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