How much effort does it take to be civil? A great deal it turns out, at least for me. Being polite does not come naturally. It is practiced rather than instinctive. Journeying into thoughtful territory is going the extra mile and apparently I’m usually short on fuel.
Another characteristic I’m proud of is that while occasionally I give folks the benefit of doubt, I’m more often quick to find fault. But you see, I can judge with wild abandon because I myself am sheer perfection, the standard to which everyone aspires. Furthermore, I’m always right which can be off-putting, I guess. I try to mask my superiority behind a wide smile and a few common courtesies, but being super-human (or should I instead say ‘superbly’-human) puts me at a disadvantage. Truth be told, its hard being me.
Now, you probably think I’m kidding. I’m not, not totally. I believe what I’ve written to be an accurate description of me – or – was an accurate description. I don’t think I’m a total narcissist anymore. Sure, I have my days, but mostly I try to be nice – the operative word being ‘try’. That I fail miserably a whole lot of the time is not worth discussing. I try which should be good enough.
So perhaps, because I’ve been reflecting lately on these less-than-flattering traits of mine, I’ve become like a vacuum cleaner. Ruminating on dirty can bring on more dirt and so it was last night when I hoovered up an arrogant know-it-all who reminded me that my nastiness isn’t as nasty as I think. Wait. I should reword slightly. He wasn’t ‘nasty’ in the sense of mean but more very, very, opinionated in the sense of youthful naiveté and false bravado. The latter is mostly born of inexperience. Anyhoo, the encounter caused me to ‘check-in’ with myself.
As many of you know, my blog began as a redo. Over 365 days I was going to get worthy, clean up my eating, and start moving regularly. My desire to transcend the ravages of time continues. On the physical side of things, being in a somewhat rugged part of the world, I’ve come upon a great many ‘seniors’ who can easily outdistance me. They cycle, surf, rock climb, and hike extraordinarily tough terrain for hours. I find it encouraging. When I proceeded to explain to this young man part of my blog’s intention and some of its subject matter, he scoffed and became Forrest Gump stating, “Reality is what reality is.” “Pardon?”, said I.
So as not to wax verbose, in a nutshell, his view is that we are all slaves to reality – wait – we are slaves of ‘his’ reality – and life begins, proceeds, and ends according to the paradigm he believes is capital T, Truth. Goodness, I thought, it’s been a long time since I encountered such a view. Even more disheartening was his level of academic study. Was I so narrow minded when embarking on post graduate studies? Maybe I was.
Anyhoo, suffice it to say, I was knocked back and became a bit tongue-tied. The only good thing to come out of the discourse was a wager. He bet me that no 100 year old has run a marathon. No 80 year old could climb Everest. They would die. Happily he was incorrect on both counts.
Now, of course there’s only one centenarian marathon runner and one octogenarian climber. The Briton Fauja Singh retired at 102, or 103 and is alive today at 105. Yuichiro Miura reached the highest spot on earth in 2011 at 80. Regardless, I won the bet.
The point of all of this is not to dis anyone, however. All of us are entitled to our views. The point instead is to remind myself (and you by virtue of your reading this post) that we are both limited and expanded by our mind’s view. No, we do not live hundreds of years, our frail bodies eventually losing the race, but our minds are capable of far more than we give them credit for during whatever time we have. Reality is an always changing construct, one we continue to redefine almost daily. Popular thought once professed the world was flat and that we could walk off its edge.
I am not a quantum physicist, nor an accredited philosopher, but my gut tells me repeatedly that we are greater than the sum of our parts with access, always, to the ‘whole’. We might not connect to it wisely, we might disregard it, weaken the link, but we are never severed from it. We are one. Therefore, we have potential as yet untapped. Don’t we see it every single day? We are more amazing, loving, capable, mean-spirited, ugly and violent than ever. Hmm, evolution.
My wish today is for generosity of spirit. Let it wash over you. Lather yourself up in it. I began this post railing about my flawed being, my inability to find my loving heart. I began that way to make a point about our thinking mind and how what we tell ourselves is who we become. Change your mind. Tell yourself a different story. Be kind to YOU. Be civil to YOU. Go the extra mile for YOU. Be superior in your belief that YOU are a good human, being the best human you can be. Rinse and repeat and then start all over again. In time you will find that spirit born of the whole. It doesn’t need to judge or diminish. It loves unconditionally, gives endlessly, and can change the whole wide world starting with your own beautiful heart.