Morning Meditation: The Messy Middles

watercolor leaf wreath

Middles can be messy. You may start your endeavor with the best intentions and a well-thought-out plan, but there is no telling what could happen when step three meets life.

Middles are messy. Expect them to be. Don't give self-doubt the battle benefit of the element of surprise. Cut it off at the pass: you saw it coming. "Everything went as planned" is a fallacy. Everything did not go as planned, but the best of us can make it seem so through quick thinking and the ability to adjust, to troubleshoot, to flow with—not fight with—what comes our way. That is all we can ever hope for: perceived, not actual perfection. The Platonic ideal, which is not a perfect circle that exists in the realm of our imagination, but our imperfect versions, with embellishments to distract the eye.

Middles should be messy. They're where dreams become real and take form, and often stop looking like dreams. The fuzzy edges harden. The mist lifts. What looks like a slice of chocolate cake turns out to be the edges of your pillowcase. The chocolate cake in our minds may look divine, but the taste of the actual cake is what lingers in our mouths; the crumb, what fills our stomachs. If we stay in the beginning, we get all Pinterest pegs and never cake. If we live for the end, we end up with the same old store-bought take outs. Embrace the mess of the middle, the trials and errors and too much sugar and what about nutmeg. The mess is where the possibly good becomes the actually great. Middles are where breakthroughs happen.

The best we can do is to start with love: to respect the work enough to approach it with care and proper planning, or, failing that, with the intention to pour our hearts into the endeavor. The best we can do is to end with love: to keep at it until the work is done, cleaning as we go, and refusing to give up until we have finished well. The best we can do is to do what we love even if we don't always love what we do. Drafts are part of the process. Paper is not cheap, but it is also not priceless. You can afford to turn the page and start again.