Don’t you hate it when you bump up against someone who is judgmental, close-minded and opinionated!? Oh damn, that was me. Yesterday. Some innocent bystanders bumped up against me. I was judgmental, close-minded and opinionated. Now, I could hate myself for it, and I really want to but what good would that do? The incomparable poetry of Mary Oliver came to my mind.
“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
She also reminded me to think about my despair. Those times I have been hurt by those base human actions I displayed. My first wish is that it hadn’t happened. I feel that way here as well, but the truth is it has and it did. The second is acknowledgment. Getting an acknowledgement from someone else who put pain on your table, is usually a hope unfulfilled. So I did try. To admit my ridiculousness and ask for forgiveness.
We are so dualistic, we like to divide everything up into being good girls or bad boys. But when it comes to human interactions it seems to me the hurt should be the focus. The feelings we can engender in others when we don’t walk gently in the world. If you’ve been hurt, you know the feeling. The questions that arise in your deepest places. Are my feelings so unimportant? What do I do with this sense of worthlessness or invisibility I feel, that wasn’t there before the giant fool stomped on me? There is something so powerful in the interplay between people that we can make each other question our own innate value. It is a heavy responsibility.
Now, would it really help to see the giant fool crawling backwards on his knees or self-flagellating himself? God, shame and self-pity, what useless and self-aggrandizing emotions.
I am fortunate, because instead of feeling shame, I felt the truth. I am thankful for those few who called me out on my actions and truly hope they can forgive me, but not for my sake. I hope for that for them. For the sake of their pain level to be brought back down to whatever it was before I entered the picture.
Mary said, “Let the soft animal of your body tell you what it loves.” I love it when I choose love. I love it when I can listen without judgement. I love it when my mind is open to receive the wisdom and stories of my fellows. I love it when I can hold my opinion close and not need to share it indiscriminately. “The world goes on.” I hope those few who I hurt know that no one can take their place in the “family of things.” In spite of any fool they bump up against. Always.
“The darkness just lets us see what’s inside”. Iris, U2