Beautiful Work in Progress

August 5th, 2013

under constructionDuring the week I found a drawer in our house that I’d never noticed before. It had 5 eggs and an envelope with $1k in it. I asked Meg if she knew about it. She told me that every time I give a poor speech she puts an egg in the drawer. I said to her, “Wow, after all these years of public speaking, only five eggs! Not bad at all!”

She said, “Every time I get a dozen, I sell them.”

Not really. Meg is my biggest supporter. But she also helps me to think through many presentations, before and after the event, which is invaluable.  When you think about, the process for any given speech (or article) is long and involved. When does it begin? A couple of days before? A month before? At the beginning of my life? At the beginning of time? Its impossible to say what forces, ideas, genes and connections combine to create any speech or article, all the way back. Every speech is an infinite work in progress.

And when does it end? The minute it’s finished? Definitely not.  After the speech, we do something called “talk back” where people share applications, questions and ideas related to the topic. This always helps me to think more deeply about it. Then I go home and we have some dinner table conversation about it, and my thinking goes deeper. Then I try to write up some of the thoughts, etc etc. There is no end to the process.  Every speech is an infinite work in progress.

The playwright Arthur Miller was being interviewed and asked if he was working on a new play. He said, “I don’t know, but probably I am.”

I feel the same way. If you asked me, “Are you working on a speech or an article or a plan of any kind?” my answer would be, “probably I am.”

Whether its public speaking, pursuing dreams, building a plan, improving your skills, or seeking inner peace, we are ALL works in progress, constantly evolving and growing and becoming more of who we are in every moment.

The problem is that we buy into the cunning lie of closure. Closure (or perfection) is an impossible burden to  bear. Whole industries are built around the myth of closure. Some lawyers use closure to motivate clients to seek justice. Some psychologists tease clients with the lure of closure. Some religion keeps people dependent with the promise of closure, of course according to their  terms and conditions.

When we buy into the myth of closure, we never feel good enough, where we are now is never the right place or time. When it comes to inner peace this is a huge trap. The idea that there is some end point called peace prevents us from experiencing the peace that is already here and now, even though its experienced differently in every moment.

There is no closure, no perfection, no enlightenment, no perfect peace. There is just the acceptance that you are exactly who and where you need to be in each moment. Stop the struggle, and there’s the peace. Another way to say this is that there’s no peace outside of you, but as soon as you stop looking for it, you feel it within.

It’s time to stop buying into the closure myth, and accept life as it unfolds; always moving, always open, always more to come and yet perfect as it is.

I recently spent time in some of the great Cathedrals of the world (especially in Florence, Chartres in France and Barcelona). Many of them have ongoing renovation projects. I can relate as I ran a very historic church in Auckland New Zealand for several years, and know the excitement and burden of old buildings. Some of the Italian Cathedrals (Duomos) were hundreds of years in construction and still have ongoing work to do. The Cathedral in Barcelona is the most interesting of all. The great Architect Gaudi started it 120 years ago. He was so committed to it that he slept on site for the last year of his life.  Others continued his work and to this day you can climb the tower amid cranes and scaffolding.

Gaudi was a genius, well ahead of his time, and now others continue his vision. Gaudi’s vision was more than just architectural. He wanted the religious symbols on the outside of the building and nature imagery on the inside. The lines and light on the inside make you feel like you’re in the middle of very tall trees. It was a revolutionary idea. Gaudí coined the famous phrase, ‘originality is returning to the origin.’ What I take this to mean is that the origin of all things is nature. He also said that “Nothing is art if it does not come from nature.”

The heart of accepting your own life journey is to see the nature of the inside, to know you are whole and perfect as you are in each moment and let this acceptance guide your creativity, decisions, hopes and visions. You are a beautiful work in progress, and this work has no beginning and no end.

I love that the root of the Italian word for Cathedral (Duomo) is the word for house (Domus).The root of that word is “to build”. So El Duomo could literally be translated as “a work in progress”.

If only more religion would get this. Instead of guilting people with shame about not being good enough, religion should help people celebrate their nature which is whole and brilliant as it is.

Your life is evolving exactly as it needs to evolve. Celebrate everything as it is, knowing that it will continue to evolve. Be now and be ready for more. In some more great words from Gaudi,

“Tomorrow we will do beautiful things.”

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  1. Mike Stewart says:

    I like the idea of this but it seems like it is an article about closure from not truly being able to have closure… 

  2. ian says:

    nice- i like it. The closure of not expecting closure.

  3. G Angela says:

    I loved the phrase “beautiful work in progress ” so true…. and I am so glad to be reading this article today, thanks for sharing, you have made a difference .. thanks again  

  4. K. Lawrence says:

    The beautiful thing is that people can still chase God without being hung up over religion.