There may have been a perfect life - someone who grew up without hurting his or her parents, siblings, friends, others - but the signs were never promising. Even Jesus, who, they say, self-conceived in Mary, to avoid the physicality of a conventional conception, burst out of her the usual way, which no doubt, like the more esoteric messages that came with him in the envelope, she'd held in her heart and pondered.
Say there were more like him - men and women who have been allowed to grow tall, full and unstinted, like oaks in good ground. Still, for most of us, life is about learning that isn't so. Most trees, it seems to me, grow as well as those materials they have been given allow them to be. What unfurls from the acorn takes shape in the soil and grows in wrenching disorder as much as in the order of the world it finds around it.
That, come maturity, we learn is beauty, and enough.
But what after maturity? After enlightenment, which I take to be the same thing, a zen proverb says, chop wood, carry water - just as you did before. I know this is true, but I also know that as I grew up, I hurt people. I punched my mother as I sat on her knee. I scared a young woman older than myself as I sought, self-absorbed, to define for myself the limits of what I felt might be love. A friend of hers gave me the chance to stop before the police were involved. That was the beginning of company. I am grateful to him and to her.
I suppose one has learned that, as a tree in a copse is bowed down by one tree, but supported by another, which in time, daisy-chained around the line, draws support from the wounding first, one is soothing even as one tears open; one is wheat, to quote Matthew 13, even as one is a wild weed. Therefore, in the new wood-chopping and water-carrying, I might hope to build good things alone, but at least I know I build good as I build bad.
It is time to build.