Take it easy
[Note: I made notes for this article a year and a half ago when my son was just two years old. He turns four this month and is much, much more articulate. Articles take a long time to go from idea I jotted notes about until I send them out…]
I want to tell you about my son. He’s a wonderful little guy who constantly wants me to draw things.
He gives me instructions on what to draw, saying things like “Choo choo train!” So I draw a choo choo train. Then he says, “Ack!” which means tracks, so I draw train tracks. “Mo’ ack!” he says, which means more tracks. So I draw more tracks. Then he says, “Ooh ahh ahh,” which means monkey, so I draw monkeys.
My point here is that my son doesn’t pronounce things very well. Most of the time when he draws things, I have no idea what the heck he’s drawing. Frankly, it’s a mess. His motor skills are horrible.
My wife and I make fun of him all the time, because he doesn’t speak well, and his hand/eye coordination is atrocious. He is just a disaster at talking and drawing. And, he trips and falls sometimes too. Oh, do we laugh!
Of course, I’m kidding. We don’t make fun of him. Why would we shame him like that? The fact that our son lacks good motor skills doesn’t mean anything except that he doesn’t yet have good motor skills. We aren’t going to shame him for this lack of development with harsh criticism.
Yet we engage in this same kind of self-castigation all the time, don’t we? We insist that we should be able to do things we can’t do.
Why? Why do we push ourselves to be something we aren’t?
If you lack fine motor skills, then you lack fine motor skills. If you don’t have an answer to a question that’s been bothering you, then you don’t have the answer. Why are you kicking your own ass because you don’t know the answer to the question?
I’m partially talking to myself here, as I do with all these articles. I do this to myself – scold myself for things I can’t do, or for qualities I don’t have.
I often I think I should be further along in life than I am.
The image I have of myself is of me leaning forward at a 15º angle – constantly forced onward in forward momentum. I’m perpetually thinking I should be ahead of myself.
The poet Rilke once wrote:
Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
(Letter Four 16 July 1903)
The point is, we ought not kick our own asses for not being able to do what we can’t do, or for not knowing the things we don’t know.
Just take it easy on yourself.
Take it easy on others, too. They can’t do more than they can do. It’s disappointing, sure, but you can learn to live with your disappointments. Let them be.
This week’s spiritual-religious advice: take it easy.
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