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I Drew a Perfect Circle

 I drew a perfect circle
On the canvas of the sky
With the paintbrush of my finger
And the compass of my eye.

I couldn't take it with me.
It was lost within a cloud.
The outline became indistinct
Like a face amongst a crowd.

I sought a form's perfection
Against the infinite blue
To find that famed connection
Between the beautiful and true.

I drew a perfect circle,
And this I've come to know
That only in imagining
Do perfect circles grow.

Dr. Daniel J. Bressler is the chair of the Biomedical Ethics Committee at Scripps Mercy Hospital. He published the above poem in San Diego Physician magazine.

Have you ever filled out one of those "wheels of life"? You know, the kind where you get to grade different aspects of your life: healthy eating, exercise, family, social relationships, home environment, career, financial stuff, personal growth, etc. You get to assign each a value between 1 and 10 and shade in the corresponding pie chart to give yourself a picture of how you could work on balance in your life. Ever made all the slices come out evenly at once? Erm, no, me neither.

In his article, Dr. Bressler noted that the message of his poem is meant to be one of humility rather than futility. A recognition that we can't ever get it all perfect, all at once. That it's not possible. I don't think he's advocating resignation--that we should just give up and excuse ourselves from trying. Instead, I think the message here is one of clear seeing (mindfulness) of the imperfections, acceptance of the imperfections, and compassion for ourselves in that acceptance. We shouldn't stop drawing our beautiful circles, but here is an invitation to admire them without judgement.

 

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