Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Human frailty

Today I am thinking about how everyone -myself included, or perhaps most of all - makes mistakes. I am thinking about how some mistakes are easily corrected with an "oops, I'm sorry!" and how some take years to heal. Most mistakes, of course, fall somewhere in the middle.

I'm thinking about labeling of "good" and "bad" and how we accept, deny, or give these labels. I'm thinking about how few things truly deserve such blanket statements; there are elements of good and bad in just about everything, and certainly in everyone.

I'm thinking about how to correct mistakes, and how to respond to them. I'm thinking about hurt feelings - mine and others' - and how to best address them.

I'm wondering where the line between owning one's own feelings and placing blame or credit on others for those feelings belongs.

Lots of things are provoking these thoughts. I have several people in my life who have marriages in trouble, and who are struggling to do the right thing, and to make the right decision. Ryan and I have certainly used angry words with each other (in addition to loving words, of course), and I wonder how to own, address, recover from those words. I have friends who awe me with their superpowers of kindness, and they remind me that they, too, are frail. I have acquaintances who baffle me with their thoughtlessness, and I struggle not to label them, and to remember that they, too, are merely human.

And myself....I struggle with my own frailty, my own mistakes. I truly, deeply want to be the best person that I can be, and to give more in this world than I take. I want to work hard, I want to relax in the sunshine, and I want to find the balance between the two. I want to be a living example of compassion to others, while not ignoring my own need for compassion. I want to remain true to my convictions, while not forcing them upon others. I want to try to avoid mistakes, especially of the hurtful variety, but forgive myself when I make mistakes. But I also don't want to let myself off the hook for my mistakes, but to work to correct them (which is a form of forgiveness, I think). I neither want to make more, nor less, out of my mistakes than what they really are. And I recognize that my pursuit of compassion is anything but a done deal...I have a lot to learn. More than I thought, even, and I never thought I had it figured out.

Some thoughts from others about human frailty, forgiveness, and compassion:

“As human beings we all want to be happy and free from misery… we have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger, attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion and a sense of universal responsibility are the sources of peace and happiness.” - The Dalai Lama

"...and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us..." - The Lord's Prayer

Yael Naim's song "New Soul" speaks to me, too.

I'm a new soul
I came to this strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit bout how to give and take
But since I came here, felt the joy and the fear
Finding myself making every possible mistake


See I'm a young soul in this very strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit bout what is true and fake
But why all this hate? try to communicate
Finding trust and love is not always easy to make

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