We must bear patiently not being good… and not being thought good. — St. Francis of Assisi
I can’t remember where I read this, but there is a notion that suggests the more we learn about ourselves and others, through self-education and contemplation, the deeper we sense the world around us. This could mean a greater joy or a greater suffering, depending on where your focus is. In other words, the more “woke” we are as humans, the heavier the weight of the world becomes… or more luminous the skies above.
This got me thinking more about that helpless feeling I spoke about in my “How To Disappear Completely” piece. That was truly a terrible day, I believe, for this country. The months leading up to it certainly added to the hysteria, but witnessing such an astonishing display of casual apathy towards other human beings by the most powerful person on the planet really got the best of me. In that moment, I knew one thing: That I knew nothing.
I knew nothing, but I had to write about it, and I needed to share my frustrations in an honest way so that I could look back on the moment and be able to make sense of things. I couldn’t, after all, be the only person who felt the way I was feeling. So, after the anger dissipated, I was able to collect my thoughts enough to make some quiet observations.
You must first remember who you are! You must start with the positive and not with a problem, or you never get beyond a kind of negative problem solving.– Richard Rohr
REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE! That is the first thing any of us should be doing when faced with a challenge. Particularly a challenge involving other people, because our desire to belong is no joke! What I mean by that is, you can be a member of a strong team, but if one of your mates takes a dump on the living room floor, you’ve gotta be able to resist following his lead. So, remember who you are.
And who am I? I am many things, but what I most long to be is good. I am a good person. That being said, sometimes I am not. Coming to peace with that paradox is a challenge, but at the end of the day what makes a person good is their ability to own their imperfections, and be willing to learn how to improve.
So, in learning is to be a better person — more aware of the light surrounding everything — when the world is in pain, you are filled with empathy and a desire to help. When the world is in celebration, you are filled with gratitude and a desire to share. This is a noble ocean to sail, but unless you’re prepared the waves will take you under.
If you’re following along, we’ve learned that being a good person does not mean being a flawless person. Indeed, those flaws make us better… if we’re willing to let them. So we learn. We share what we’ve learned, we listen to what others have learned, and together we learn some more. We’re all swimming around together, bound to bump into a few of the same whales. Though, most of the time we’re on our own. Nobody can make us pick up a book, let alone get something meaningful out of it.
And if you’re intentional about becoming better, you start in the shallow water. The more you learn, the farther you wade. Before you know it, you’re up to your waist in charmingly brackish water. You can feel pretty great about that, but here’s where the trouble starts. Some angry fool tosses a boulder nearby and the whitecap knocks you on your ass!
You’ve now learned the hard way that you could really use a boat. If you don’t spend any time on that boat, it won’t matter how much you’ve learned, you’ll just drown. Game over, man!
The boat can be made of anything that will help you ride the waves when they come. Chances are, you’ll need to make room for other people, because you can’t do this on your own. If you think, for some insane reason, that you can do it all by your lonesome, you’ll probably want to just camp out on the beach. Which, sadly, is what a lot of folks decide to do. But never mind them!
The more time you spend strengthening your floatation device, the more time you’ll have to work on becoming better.
So, I guess what I’m trying to get at is it’s okay to have a crap day. It’s okay to lose your marbles once in a while. But you need to pick those bastards up before people start tripping all over your mess. Ride those waves the best you can, and take the people you love along for the ride.
The National Bail Fund Network https://www.communityjusticeexchange.org/nbfn-directory