Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I’ve been thinking about perfection a lot lately, and how my attempts to achieve it can become a barrier to happiness. Maybe that’s why last night’s dinner at the Finnish Bistro in St. Paul became more than just a quick and handy nosh. The beautiful day was turning into a near perfect evening, more like mid-September than early August with cool, dry air and warm sun. We sat at a sidewalk table surrounded by fuchsia petunias and lime-green vines. Across the street, outside Micawber’s Books, green benches nestled among tubs of pink and white flowers. Kiddy corner, pots of lavender and purple blossoms filled the steps leading up to the beautiful old Carnegie library. The usually busy intersection was quiet. I agreed with Dean that “it couldn’t get much better than this.” But it did when a lone gentleman sat down at a nearby table and took out his guitar. The soft, seductive strains of the classical piece he was working on hung in the air like butterflies. No way could the evening get any better. But it did when a flash of bright pink caught our attention. We laughed to see a girl, no more than five or six, zoom past on her bike. She was quite a picture in her sparkly yellow helmet, her blue Care Bear t-shirt, her pink tutu, and a pair of bright-green frog-faced Wellies. Standing straight and proud on the pedals of her bike, she called out with an ecstatic “Woo Hoooo!” It was impossible not to share in her joy as we agreed that yes, this finally and indeed was perfection. There’s a lesson for me here. Maybe perfection, like happiness, can’t be forced. Maybe I’d finally achieve it if I quit trying so hard. But that’s a new lesson, and I’m old enough to know that 60+ years of habits will trump a new lesson every time. Still, I’m not so old that I’m not willing to try to learn something new...this time from a beautiful, a guitar player, and a five-year-old girl on a bike.

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