(Or, more thoughts on excellence)
Note: I wrote this a week ago in a moment of breezy triumph, and then the mess of life — in the form of my baby coming down with a fever for five days and caterwauling whenever I put him down for one moment, and then passing the fever on to me — got in the way of me taking that extra 5 minute step of posting it here. Ah! The glory of excellence and messiness intertwined…
I’ve been thinking more about excellence and what it means. If my version of excellence is not perfectionism, if it includes messiness, what is it?
Let’s break it down, starting with the word mess …
= too much stuff
= overwhelming, avoiding
= piling = stockpiling = hoarding
= creative = destructive = generative
And there are some parts of that I want to keep and some I’d like to move away from. What are the qualities of this thing around excellence that I want in my life?
= a well tended garden
= room to expand
= the right tools
= something manageable = a little chaos but not all chaos
= doing = diving in
= to put things away
= to get out tools, make a big mess, then clean up and put away
= enough space to make a mess
= to let things go
= the key to survival
= to tend to nature
= to tend to myself
And what I don’t like about excellence is this idea of the BEST or the FINEST or getting rated or ranked or lined up and compared. This is the greatest, this sucks, this is hot, this is not. Yuck.
I looked up the word EXCELLENT to see where it comes from.
Ex = outside, beyond
Cellence = Celsus = lofty, high
I remember the term “in excelsius” from some hymn… which one, does anyone know? It means higher, loftier, more elevated, ever upward. Glory to god in the highest.
So to be in excellence is to exist to the utmost degree, to be high, to be praised for being what you are to the greatest degree – to celebrate that quality and that desire and that process.
When Bill and Ted say, Excellent! — they are saying, this is in alignment, this works, this is how things should be. When they say, be excellent to each other, they mean, bring out the best in each other. Enjoy each other. Treat each other well.
My excellence encourages your excellence. When I see you being excellent, I want to be excellent too. Our mutual excellence is a game, a way of taking care of each other.
I want to fly high to the limits of my nature. Which also will mean, failing. Failing and flying are both included in excellence, two sides of the same process.
It is the opposite of calcifying.
It is the process of alchemy, of change, of evolution.
It is stretching and morphing and molting and figuring out what you are now in this moment, which is impossible to figure out, which is why it’s so fun.
Fun is not COMFORTABLE.
But it feels right.
You’re glad on some level.
Like when the toys are scattered everywhere
And cleaning them up will take a lot of work and you don’t FEEL like doing a lot of work, you’d rather go to bed
But you take a deep breath and you put them all away
And it only takes five minutes
And it will only last about five minutes
And when they are put away you look around and feel a surge of goodwill, of pride, of rightness, of clarity
And you make yourself a cup of tea instead of the beer you feel like reaching for
And you feel cozy and comforted and strong and healthy
As you close your eyes and drift off to sleep
In alignment with yourself and the universe
In this moment
That is excellent
May you be excellent to yourself this weekend! Let’s all be excellent to ourselves and each other.