Lately, on the periphery of my social circle, I’ve noticed a couple of scolding girls wagging their fingers at less-than-perfect behavior of a few of their friends and acquaintances, to which I say to those who are the subject of their scorn, “If someone is chiding you, come sit next to me.” Not because I want to hear gossip or smarky remarks about anyone. I want them next to me because of all their glorious imperfection. They’re the mirror to my imperfection. After all, aren’t we all imperfect? Isn’t the very definition of our human-ness tied up in being imperfect?
At our age, do we really need someone to suggest that we use our indoor voice, or to point out that, in our adamancy, we’re forgetting the obvious, or that our flippant remark may have been ill-advised and not interpreted correctly or appreciated?
No one changes out of negativity. You do not shine brighter when you highlight poor behavior of others. At this point in our lives, none of us needs a “reminder-er,” much less a hall monitor, an etiquette scholar, or a judge.
We (including me) are doing things to improve. But we’re not ‘there’ yet. We’re not without problems and mistakes and misunderstandings and confusion and impatience. We still snap, snarl, and push down anger and shame with food or booze or sex. We preach lessons we haven’t learned ourselves. We pretend to be perfect and, sometimes, when our “audience” doesn’t see and/or appreciate our perfection, we lash out.
I don’t enjoy being with people who deny their foibles. The Donald Trumps of the spiritual world hold no interest for me, not even as comical farce. When I’m around people who pretend to be headed toward perfection, judgment rises within me. I judge myself for not being as close to perfection as them, and then I judge them for being so totally off base. Yes, I need to work on my judgment too!
Don’t preach to me and I won’t preach to you. Don’t tell me what I should do, think, or say. Share with me what has worked for you, and I will do the same if you ask. Let’s agree, though, to go on as friends even if neither of us improves. Being good or always doing or saying the right thing won’t be a deal breaker for our friendship — unless we abuse our differences by not taking each other’s feelings into consideration.
~~taking a breath and shifting my innards~~
Let’s gaze with loving eyes, eyes seeing an innocent baby with pure goodness. Sometimes I’m not able to have soft eyes to look at myself or my behavior.
On particularly difficult days when I’m experiencing multiple levels of imperfection, I lose all faith in my ability to be the better person I want to be. Sometimes I can’t quite pull away from the muck and mire to see and feel the wholesomeness of my life. Kali, my cat, has seen me in an oh-so-unattractive place for many years, and it’s a good thing she can’t talk.
On difficult days, when all my imperfections appear at once, I try to remember to open up and surrender. I get quiet and visualize the angst and control and disappointment fading away like the morning fog.
Eventually the light returns.
Eventually the trust and faith in my graciousness reappears.
Eventually Antonia is back, in all her glorious imperfection.