Happy Mess = Happiness?

Updated: May 10, 2021

When we fight to have a perfect life, life often fights us back.

I always want to be in control. But nothing makes me feel as out of control as trying to be in control, but not being able to. I think this is the source of a lot of our neuroses, that we think we need to be in control of everything. "If I can just get this ONE THING nailed down," we lie to ourselves, "then the rest of my life will just fall into place." It's such a desperate view, but I have a lot of sympathy for that view, too, because I am often that person myself. What's that thing about, "When you point at someone, three of your fingers point back at you"? That thing.

Now, I am not an expert in mystical interpretations, but in these moments, I hear the message loud and clear. The Universe is basically saying, "Chill the fuck out."

I can recall so many times in my life where I go, "This is it. I am FINALLY going to get everything together. I will not live in messy chaotic circumstances anymore. Today, a line is being drawn in the sand!" Then I roll up my sleeves, make battle plans, and roll out the tanks, fully intent on razing just about every bad thing in my life, the totalitarian version of "bringing peace to the kingdom, even if by force."

And you know what, sometimes it works ... for a little while. But then things start to fall apart again. I am human so: I get tired, I get sick, I let down my guard, I stop paying attention to my eating, or my budget. Before I know it, I am back where I started again: I had tried to craft my life into a palace of perfection so big that it could never fall ... problem is - and always was - that the more perfect you build something is, it's that much harder to maintain.

So the Universe - being the good Trickster that it is - sends me banana peels: when I vow to get in charge of my finances, I suddenly lose $20, for no reason whatsoever. (And I get pissed. 'Pissed off' is a pretty good indicator you are trying to control things.) When I decide I am going to make my apartment "perfect," the toilet suddenly overflows. (This happened only a few weeks ago.) Now, I am not an expert in mystical interpretations, but in these moments, I hear the message loud and clear. The Universe is basically saying, "Chill the fuck out." Ego wants perfection. And when you build your house of cards from a place of ego, just wait for it, Life will always be the wind ...

So then I think in the opposite direction, to the times in my life when I am not doing the old "cupping the water so tightly that it all slips through my fingers" routine. When I do chill out. When I just let go. When I stop trying to tell life what to look like, and let it show me what it wants me to see. Times like those, I meet people much more easily, I learn about new opportunities without seeking them out. In this "let life be messy" orientation, it all feels easier, even if I still have no fucking clue where I am going. I let life lead the raft. I follow the course of the stream, which - though sometimes longer - is in the end much quicker than trying to bushwack a straight-line path through dense and dangerous jungles.

Now, I'm not saying my experience needs to be yours. That would be a bit imperious of me. Presumptuous, too. All I am saying is that this is how my life seems to play out. I want perfection and control and predictable outcomes. But instead I often get siderailed. But I think Life is trying to show me where life is: in the imperfect people, the imperfect situations, the imperfect paths. There's something very ego-y and removed from life about thinking you can have it all, exactly as you want it. Maybe some people get that in this lifetime (for good behavior in their last life), but I seem to be here this time to learn to be more human. Not above people, but with them.

This always reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from Erin Brockovich, where she and her boss, Ed, are sitting with a poor couple in their modest home and have just gotten the signatures that they needed. Ed immediate gets up and declares, "OK, well, we have to be going, we have a long drive back." And Erin leans in, grabs his tie (I think), and says - so only he can hear, "Sit the fuck down and have a cup of coffee, Ed." Meaning: Don't be all business, be with people every once in a while. Be a fucking human.

Because this is what it's about. Bad coffee and bundt cake, with humans, in an imperfect setting. But ... connecting.

OK, I think that's more than enough for now,

~ Quest Barely, all!


Kemson Cooper is the creator of QuestBarely.com, a site about using the body as a path to explore the Self. He is also the author / artist of "Love Yourself ~ A Body of Work" (hailed by at least a few as the world's first naked self-empowerment book) & "The Bird Who Had No Clue" (a sweet little illustrated tale about life, for all ages).

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