Self Expression Magazine

Finding Joy in All Things

By Doulalovelou
Ask people who REALLY know me and they'll tell you I'm quite the perfectionist. Not in the sense that everything HAS to be perfect but in the sense that I want and expect everything I DO to be perfect. My perfectionism waxes and wanes month by month, day by day. Sometimes I'm capable of embracing the messiness of life, finding myself bending and swaying with the flexibility that this life requires. But usually I'm stressing about how something I've done or have yet to do just isn't quite right.
I'm that girl who almost gave up knitting because I kept having to rip out my stitches. I was taught by my mom over Thanksgiving weekend years ago and after three days of constant practice I got so angry at myself because I was still making mistakes. AFTER THREE DAYS.
I'm that girl who reads and re-reads emails (at least twice) to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors... because how embarrassing would that be?!
I'm that girl who left Midwifery school because the thought of my own human error negatively affecting the outcome of a birth made me want to puke.
Sure, these things may seem inconsequential to some... I mean everyone makes mistakes right?
Absolutely! Of course, we're only human. I'm only human.
But still, I strive for perfection... and still I freak out or get angry or sad or overwhelmed when I achieve anything less than that.
I had high hopes for today. I had planned a day-trip to LA and was excited to cross off a bucket list item: Hiking to the Hollywood sign.
I researched for days. I read blogs on people's favorite trails, their tips and advice on having an enjoyable experience, and I checked the weather to make sure it wasn't going to be too hot and that the visibility from the hills would afford me a decent view of Los Angeles. I filled up the gas tank, synced my music, packed a little picnic and was ready to go!
I waited for the traffic to subside and made the hour trek up the 5 to the 101. I exited off Gower with a glance at the sky... perfectly blue, no clouds. Turned onto Beachwood and checked the GPS... 2 miles up this street and I'd reach the Hollyridge trail head - the leisurely and direct route to the sign.
As I got closer and the trees grew more scarce I saw it... that ancient landmark that people come to see from all over the world. It was right there...
Then, a barricade and about 50 signs that said "Hollyridge Trail Closed for Construction."
AND... commence freak out.
"What the eph? It's closed?? Why did none of my research tell me it was temporarily closed?! Why didn't my AllTrails app mention this?! Why couldn't they have posted signs along Beachwood so I didn't drive all the way up here?!"
Frustrated and flustered I took a right onto the nearest street and just drove.
Further into the Hollywood Hills I went, winding up then back down the narrow roads trying to figure out what the heck I should do.
"Just go home." A sinister voice said. "It's not worth it."
I considered that option for about 2 minutes. I thought about how anything less then my perfect planned hike would be disappointing. I thought about how I had things perfectly timed so that my return to Orange County wouldn't result in horrendous traffic. I thought about the perfect selfie I was planning to take to toot my own horn and celebrate my victory to the top.
It's amazing how many things can run through your head in the span of 2 minutes. I thought about a lot of reasons why I should just go home. Then there was a break in the houses to my left and I found myself looking out over the vast landscape of the City of Angels. The cloud cover was still thick over downtown and I couldn't see the ocean, but the hills... oh the hills looked so inviting!
Yeah right, I wasn't going home!!!
10 minutes later I made my way out of the hills, pulled to the side of the road and searched for alternatives (thank God for smartphones people!)... I knew Griffith Park was 5 minutes away and knew that there were other routes to the Hollywood sign, I just needed to gather my bearings and figure it out.
Which I did. I made a plan B and went on my way.
Let's just say that when a secondary plan fails I feel slightly less disappointed then when the primary plan does. Plan B fell apart because apparently Griffith Park and the City of Los Angeles don't feel the need to mark trail heads very well. Seriously y'all, there should be a sign that says "Hollywood Sign THIS WAY"!
I drove up and down, to the Observatory, past the Greek Theatre and back again looking for this damn trail. I was determined to get there no matter what! I stopped to ask for directions and received virtually no help from the silly park rangers who were clearly more concerned with whether people were or were not parking in red zones.
All to no avail.
Eventually I got fed up, just parked and started walking on the nearest trail I could find. Still pissed and cursing Los Angeles for being ridiculous with their trail construction and their worthless park rangers, I huffed and puffed my way up a steep incline only to find myself once again looking out over the city.
That was it... the moment that flipped the switch taking me from irritation to joy.
I walked and walked along the winding trail, up and down and through the hills - hills that took me in the complete opposite direction of the coveted Hollywood sign. Turning a corner I saw the Observatory on the cliff and smiled as a blue jay (!) flew by my head to perch on a nearby tree branch. Through the slowly thinning cloud cover I could see the distinct high rises of downtown.
It all seemed so far away and none of it down below really mattered. The traffic, the people, the stress, the perfection... none of it could touch my brief sanctuary in the hills of Hollywood. None of it could touch my joy... not even the fact that I didn't make it to the sign.
As I descended back to reality and back onto concrete the famous quote from Of Mice and Men popped into my head "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." Oh how true that was for me today. And oh how thankful I am that my best laid plans did go awry. Because in the frustration I was forced to come face-to-face with my crippling perfectionism and forced to realize that too often do I allow it to keep me from being an adventurer and a risk taker.
Sure, my selfie at the Hollywood sign would have been pretty awesome and one day I will get to cross that item off my list, but nothing is more awesome then seeing God work and finding joy in the messes of an imperfect life.

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