I should have learnt this lesson earlier in life.
But it is one of life’s ironies that most Eureka moments come too late for application. The next best thing you then want to do is to try and save your children all the pain and hurt and disappointment that go with a lifelong negotiation. It is entirely likely that they will want to make their own mistakes in turn but at the least, you would have done your moral job of highlighting the red markers.
Take our earthly tenure. There is a socially defined blueprint we spend our alive moments trying to fit. In the process, we are swamped with inputs and feedback, quite a bit of it uninvited. Judging is such a full time human engagement, it begins to look like our social and religious edifices are built with the express purpose of crushing our fragile human spirit. So there are comments, observations and assumptions about your looks, mannerisms, actions, decisions, observances and otherwise.
Alterity is undeniably critical to survival but we never seem to take a break from it. The insidious fillip to this “otherness rant” comes from our notion that we are the centers of our universes. So there life finds us, alternating between being martyrs and heroes. Every moment is grand, every twist is personal, and every scrape is deeply felt. Thus we stumble through our days with our armload of pain, all bluff and bluster one breath and tears in the next, until the day we look under the bed to find the bogey gone; there never was one in the first place.
Life’s enduring lesson I would have my girls know therefore is that most of what causes grief is rarely about you. It is not about you at all. You barely exist for those you credit with the capacity to hurt you!! How ironic that we should go through life refuting and explaining and denying and justifying when all we are addressing is a vacuous space, too caught up with itself.
But of course, I catch the whiff of skepticism You do not believe me. Well then, recall the last heart to heart, clear-the-air session you took the luxury of indulging in. Did it conclude with a life changing affirmative action or are you, as I suspect, back to square one? Did your partner in conversation hear you, see you, acknowledge you or was their lens pointed at themselves?
Sometimes, and rarely, there come along evolved beings that have the periscopic vision of empathy. Quite simply put, they get you! But for the most part, home, office, public turfs are about coming to terms; about lowering expectations; about ignoring stuff; about getting on. The degree varies from one person to another. Somewhere along this path you get to work out how much you are all right giving and taking.
Out of this balancing and evening out emerges the flicker gaining strength that there is something bigger and way beyond these negotiating tactics of which, you are a significant wedge or slice or crumb. In other words, you alone are about you. Oh what sweet liberty! The power to change what you feel and think suddenly seems round the corner.
The only thing left to learn thereafter is to tell what is about you and what is not about you at all!