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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #45

"She was always demanding too much of people and occasions. She met them with too much expectation, pursued them for perfection, and then, inevitably, was disillusioned.

"Hadn't she done it all her life? Who was she to smile at Albert's toast and Deborah's tears? She, too, still clung to the dream of perfection. She had expected it with Stephen, and failed; looked for it with a lover, and been disappointed. And now, a last chance, she wanted perfection for her son.

"The vision of perfection, she faced it here again. The vista of possibilities -- must one reject them? Was it wrong to believe in them?

"In the crystal lens of this moment, she felt she could test her deepest feelings, question true or false in herself and her life and find at last the answer. No, she knew with certainty, the possibilities were there and she was right to see them. Her mistake lay somewhere else, perhaps in the demanding. One had to perceive the possibilities in people, but not demand them. One had to believe, but not expect; see, but not clutch. What a razor edge for her to walk -- she, who always wanted to force things by will power.

"She would have to learn that she couldn't make the picture true for Stephen, or for Mark -- hadn't she seen this watching Stephen paint? -- because nothing creative came this way. A work of art couldn't be made true by sleight-of-hand or determination. It had to grow true; and growing -- had she forgotten? -- changed things. The fruit grew from the flower; the work of art, from the vision; the child, from the moment of ecstasy. You couldn't foresee just how it would grow or what form it would take; you couldn't cling to your vision, ask it to come in any particular way, or to last in any special form. Lasting killed things, the moment told her; letting go freed them to eternal life -- in another form."

-Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Dearly Beloved (1962), pp. 194-195

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