Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Perfect Poison


That's what I'm doing lately, and it's only myself I have to blame. I have a sense, a frenetic need, to know everything I feel I should know with an impossible immediacy. What I mean is...

I give myself NO learning curve -- None.

I know better. I taught for almost 10 years, and I understand the way the human brain works. And, yet, with myself, I demand my cerebral nature circumvent this rewiring process in order to provide an equilibrium I should not expect. I read once, in light of liberal paraphrasing, that true learning induces an inner dissonance - a deliberate, internal dis-harmony, if you will. All the while, I tell myself there ought to be no ripples on the surface, no ruffled feathers, no outward manifestations of my schema reconstruction.

Not only is this unfair, but it is wholly unrealistic. Who am I that I believe I can rewrite the learning process to protect my vanity? Who am I that I feel I should be protected of these feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt, in order to avoid self-evaluation. This need, this completely ridiculous expectation of Perfection is poisonous to my own development.

When did we become so concerned with appearing as though we have it all figured out? When did we decide the only capable people are those who never "don't know"? When did we determine the need for perfection in a skill or idea which is still only in utero, or at the very least, still in the wet nursery?

I have forced myself to pull back and take stock of the situation in a very brutally honest way. I have no hope of having it all figured out any time soon. I am not going to bed down tonight and wake in the morning a prodigy with complete knowledge of all aspects of this business (or my life, for that matter).

Let go. Control is not believing in this fairy tale of Perfect Understanding right out of the gate. Control is knowing there will be some things which stick, some which don't, and realizing I can come back around again to pick up what I don't get on the first go. In the mean time, this poisoning of self must stop. On days when I feel I know nothing, I'm probably right. Still, I should also write a list of all the things I know today I didn't have an inkling about yesterday.

If I can give the rest of the world permission to declare, "I don't know," then I had certainly better grant myself permission to do the same.

I don't know...and the world will keep turning.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bent, and Better For It

I'm twisted...

as are you, as are we all.
I sat on my mother's couch the other morning, chuckling a bit at the hyacinth my kids had given her for Easter. It was growing much larger than it had been; the large head of the plant was dangling drunkenly to the left, lolling on top of a stem gone horribly askew. Even its long leaves were listing to one side. Laughingly, I advised Mom to turn the plant in the other direction. "Why?" she asked me, and I helpfully informed her plants grow toward the light. Presumably this is one of the few tidbits of information my brain felt justified in retaining. Normally, space in my grey matter is reserved for wordy things. Every now and again, a bit of Biology or Algebra will sneak its way in. I can only assume it is somehow presented to me alongside something literary, much like turnip greens require the accompaniment of mashed potatoes if I am to ingest them.
For some reason, the image of Mom's tipsy tuber kept coming back to me throughout the day. Later in the afternoon, I was reading (see above statements regarding the sadly lop-sided state of my brain function), and I ran across the term summum bonum: Latin for "supreme or highest good". Intrigued by this phrase, I began to research its meaning and found a blog, right on this very platform, dealing with the idea of summum bonum. It contained a quote attributed to Aristotle which, in light of my liberal paraphrasing, stated everything, all creatures and aspects of the world, are designed to seek out good. The good we seek can be traced back to "the supreme good" from which all good things come.
Back to the bulb on Mom's bookshelf-
We are all seeking "the highest good". It is within our very natures. We were created and formed for it. Our brains, spirits, bodies, and hearts are hard-wired to search it out. Just as the hyacinth allowed itself to be molded by the very thing which it so earnestly sought, humanity is also altered by that for which we yearn and strive.
We can not think to avoid the manipulation of ourselves. We are destined to be changed and twisted by either the light or the dark. We are never allowed the luxury of staying the same. Our choice comes from deciding if we will grow toward the light, stretch toward that which is good and feeds us, or be shriveled and stunted by the dark circumstances of our lives.
As the plant was bent and reshaped for its own good, we are, as well, when we allow ourselves to crave, search out, and grow toward summum bonum as it is made manifest in our lives. There is no shame or ill intent in the molding. Remember: all things emitting from the light of "the supreme good" are good of themselves and can only strengthen us from the roots up, throughout our core being.
Oh to be warped, bent, and twisted as the earnest, humble blossom-- to be tender and obedient in the light and rays of the Son. Reach for the good; stretch for it. Lean into it. Allow it to change and maneuver what needs redirection.

Twisted and better for it. Grow toward the light.