As the perfectly imperfect Gerty Gateauguzzler sipped on her Pina Colada and excitedly anticipated the impending sunset over the resplendent azure ocean, she was suddenly struck by the realisation that she was so happy she could almost wet her pants. She had finally made another of her dreams come true by getting on a plane to the island paradise of Bali.
Gerty was considered an upbeat kind of gal – the sort whom others would say always viewed the glass as half full. She was overweight for sure – some might say she was a bit on the podgy side. She wasn’t unusually bright, though she also wasn’t stupid. Gerty was generally in reasonably good health, podginess aside, and she definitely wasn’t rich. She always seemed to find the money for the things she wanted to do, but by some of her rich friends’ standards, she was practically destitute.
“That barman’s a bit of alright,” she said to her friend, Jacinda. “In fact, I just spilt a bit of my Pina Colada down my chest and I could imagine him licking it off” she giggled.
“Oh, don’t be so uncouth Gerty!” said Jacinda. “Your vulgarity can be so offensive sometimes.”
“Alright, settle down petal” retorted Gerty.
Jacinda Ponsonby-Buckhoarder was frequently a little too offended by, well most things really. Unlike her quirky buddy, Gerty, Jacinda could be considered a gal who had it all. Daddy had sent her to the Sorbonne in Paris to complete her education, before creating an executive position for her in one of his companies. The salary was huge but even after five years, nobody in the organisation really knew what it was that she did exactly. If they were to judge performance by the number of ‘I find this offensive’ comments she had written on people’s Facebook posts, then she would undoubtedly have been promoted and awarded ‘Employee of the Month’. Her bathroom was about as big as Gerty’s apartment and her walk-in wardrobe was definitely larger than Gerty’s ‘gaff’.
On the subject of boyfriends too, these unlikely chums couldn’t have been more different. Gerty was passionate to the extent of being what some in the jet set might describe as coquettish, whilst Jacinda was so tense and uncomfortable in her own skin, that when she occasionally forced a tortuous smile, her body yelled out ‘I’m frigid, somebody save me!’
How on earth these two had met and become buddies was the subject of much wild speculation in Jacinda’s circles. The truth was quite a humanitarian story though really. The two girls had gone on a scuba diving tour in Jamaica. When they were told to put on their dive gear in readiness for going overboard, Jacinda had frozen and begun quivering like a deer in the headlights. Gerty, who was an avid people-watcher had noticed her plight and immediately gone over to help. But that was just typical of Gerty – she helped everyone and anyone. Gerty had assisted Jacinda to put on her equipment, calmed her down with a bit of her usual banter and even held her hand underwater when Jacinda looked scared. Nobody ever helped Jacinda, so the shock of this experience of being helped by a complete stranger who had nothing to gain from it had led to a lowering of her frosty drawbridge and a genuine ‘BFF’ situation.
It’s often said that opposites attract, and this friendship was a resounding endorsement of that theory. Gerty revelled in the challenge of getting Jacinda to loosen up and try to enjoy life, whilst Jacinda was scared and thrilled in equal measure by Gerty’s rebellious and fun-loving nature. If Gerty’s glass was half-full, then Jacinda’s was about three quarters empty!
At the airport, a few hours earlier, the girls had been stunned with the awful news that their luggage had been delayed and would arrive on a later flight. Jacinda had of course gone into a mini-meltdown, demanded to see the Supervisor, threatened to sue the airline, burst into a flood of tears and declared the entire holiday ‘ruined by these incompetent, rice-munching half-wits!’. (Editor’s note – Jacinda enjoyed rice herself back home!)
Gerty had shrugged her shoulders, smiled at the airport staff and declared “No worries. We all make mistakes and I’m sure you’re doing your best to resolve it. It’s probably an excuse to buy some new gear anyway!”
Jacinda had absolutely no confidence that her luggage would arrive as promised. Gerty simply told her to “Stop stressing, Jacinda and trust in the Universe. It will all work out fine.”
“You and your bloody Universe!” countered Jacinda. “Honestly, if I hear that one more time…”
“You will hear it lots more times, I promise” chortled Gerty. “Let me buy you a drink and let’s enjoy the moment.”
“How can I possibly enjoy the moment when these nit-wits have lost my luggage? They’ve probably rifled through all my possessions and put their grubby little fingers on my underwear!” protested Jacinda.
“You should be so lucky darling!” and with that Gerty exploded into a torrent of laughter.
Try as she might, even Jacinda was unable to stay fixed in her grumpiness when in Gerty’s company and her protruding bottom lip eventually cracked into an exasperated smile of surrender.
As the sun began to set over the ocean, a child approached the girls’ table.
“Hello, my name is Kormang. I am seven. What’s your name please Miss?’ said the little Indonesian girl with a beaming smile, her white teeth glistening and her warm brown eyes sparkling with innocent joy.
“Hello Kormang, I’m Gerty and this is my friend Jacinda.”
“Oh, for goodness’s sake, just ignore her” is what Jacinda was about to say, but before the words could spill out of her mouth was condescending disdain, the little girl turned to her and said…
“That’s a pretty name Mame.”
“What? Oh, thank you I think, but whatever you’re selling, we don’t want any.” Stumbled the wealthy tourist.
“Don’t mind her. She just lost her luggage and she’s not very happy right now” explained Gerty.
“You lost your clothes? My family give you some.” said the girl in her best, broken English.
The thought of receiving some scabby, third-world clothing from a foreigner almost caused Jacinda to feel nauseous, and her face uncontrollably contorted in horror, but Gerty responded for both of them.
“That’s so kind of you. Thank you so much darling, but it’s coming on a later flight. Now what did you want to ask us?”
“I have necklaces. We selling for school, to raise money, pay for books. You buy? I give you very good price!” said the adorable little angel. “One for one dollar, three for two dollar” said the girl.
“Oh, we really don’t need any, thank you.” said Jacinda in her painfully churlish and dismissive tone.
Gerty kicked Jacinda under the table and exclaimed “We’ll both take six thank you. Won’t we Jazz?”
The moths escaped joyfully as Jacinda creaked open her Gucci purse.
“Why are you always so nice to people? And so damned happy?” inquired the spoilt, rich girl.
“Which would you rather be? Nice, and happy? Or sad and miserable?” replied Gerty. “You know, it’s really just a matter of choosing which you want to be.”
The question stunned Jacinda. Once again, she found herself flabbergasted by Gerty’s simplistic but profoundly truthful outlook on life. Was it really just a matter of choice?
As the sun began to set and the Pina Colada’s flowed, Jacinda began to examine her previous life choices and she began asking Gerty more questions about how she was able to find so much joy and kindness in her soul whilst her own life felt unfulfilled, and she felt numb inside.
The Morals of the Story
Gerty and Jacinda are fictitious characters and they are a little ‘black and white’ for the purpose of illustration – you may even know people who exemplify those extremes, but in reality we’re all a bit black sometimes and a bit white other times. That’s called being human.
There are times when we are easily charitable, empathetic, good natured, kind and generous. We’d call that being the best version of ourselves.
There may be other times when we can be grumpy, self-absorbed, inconsiderate, rude or mean-spirited. We’d call that ‘not being’ the best version of ourselves.
In short, we’re not perfect and yet we also are perfect. How can that be right? How can we be both?
Gerty and Jacinda both proved the point. They were both perfectly imperfect!
Now you’re probably thinking “What kind of double-speak is this, Tony Inman? How can we be both?”
Well, you’ve probably heard of the ‘yin and the yang’, the two sides of the same coin. To put it another way, at any given moment we can interpret any situation one way or another, in fact many different ways; then we can choose how we will respond. If we are curious about the options open to us, and we can work on reserving judgement of others, we can choose to respond in the way that is aligned with how the best version of ourselves would choose to respond.
Even when we ‘get it wrong’, it just may be that we’re actually ‘getting it right’, because either we’re meant to go away and reflect on how we chose to respond, and learn from it’; or, we’re supposed to teach someone else something – either from our wise choice, or our ‘not-so-wise’ choice.
So, even when we’re being ‘imperfect’, in some way we’re simultaneously being ‘perfect’. There is a lesson inherent in everything that happens, for someone, somewhere. We are all simultaneously both teachers and students.
My mother was a veritable treasure trove of wise old sayings, which include such gems as:
- “Oh, well it wasn’t meant to be. There’ll be something better around the corner.” (For when things didn’t go as planned or expected)
- “I can’t complain. There are always other folks worse off than me. It could always be worse and I’m very grateful for my life.”
- “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
And this absolute classic…
- “There’s now’t so queer as folk!”
I’d translate that as “We’re all weird!”
So, my parting questions for you today are…
“Which version of yourself would you aspire to be?” and
“Which responses will you choose today – ones that empower you and/or others, or ones that disempower you and/or others?”
Are you interested in learning how to build your self-confidence?
Seize the day!
P.S. If you need any help with work and life balance, consider having a ‘coaching conversation’.