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Tuesday 16 March 2004

i am not special

many young people are angry. many are militant. this is a cliche. the world is full of angry young women in their late teens and early to mid 20's. then, in their late 20's to early 30's or so, most angry young women chill out a bit. people are like honey mead or some wines. they mellow with age. stuff happens to them. they learn to talk. they learn to have boundaries. they learn mostly by making mistakes. sometimes from a teacher-type figure or a book, but mostly through trial and error.

This stuff that's going on in my life is a story told over and over. i was young and angry. now i'm less young and less angry. i was in a relationship. now i'm not. If I wrote something dramatic, like my heart felt like shards of broken glass cutting into me with every beat, you would all know what i meant. almost everyone gets their heart broken. almost everyone outlives their parents. almost everyone has a life filled with emotional ups and downs. almost everyone my age gets shaken up and re-examines things. we all live this story over and over. we all tell this story over and over. This is what the novel Generation X is all about. It's what many many novels are about. it's a story we never get tired of because it is universal. it is what happened to all of us, over and over again, but with different details, different faces, different names. what makes my story special to me is that i'm in it. what makes it special to you is that it reminds you of your own story.

We're all in this together. We're all looking for love, feeling pain, facing challenges, changing according to somewhat predictable patterns. because we're all human. and we all hurt each other or goof up or fail to communicate or act our age. nobody in this world is perfect. what makes us human is our errors, our hurts, our foibles, our personal drama, which is really our shared experiences of life.

We can look at people around us and see that they're all highly flawed. We're all born with Original Sin, according to Catholic dogma, meaning we're all doomed to fail sometimes. this makes us human. it is a cause for making connections instead of driving folks apart. how often is it that people appear more human and more likable because they're not perfect? we all share flaws, we all feel pain, we all bleed and this teaches all of us compassion. this can teach us forgiveness. we hurt each other and otherwise fail all the time. most times, people don't do this on purpose. all of us have done it. all of us have purposefully hurt each other. all of us have accidentally hurt each other. hopefully, more often the latter.

keeping a list of misdeeds of ourselves or anyone else would be exhausting. every person you'll ever meet will have a million things wrong with them. they probably have more wrong than right. if you know them long enough, they'll hurt you more than once and long enough again, they'll hurt you on purpose. we're all fucked up people and we're all fucking up all the time. you. me. everybody.

diogenes walked around with a lantern, looking for an honest man and never found anyone. anyone now looking for someone perfect or someone that won't hurt them is going to meet a similar fate. you can search yourself with a lantern and be similarly disappointed. but perfection is not actually desirable. what would you have in common with someone who had never hurt anyone or been hurt? no shared humanity. and perfectionism is even more undesirable. holding anyone, including yourself to overly high standards is just going to lead to more hurt and more heartbreak and a terrible feeling of aloneness.

this is why we must forgive. because our shared pain is an essential part of our existence. it binds us together while it pushes us apart. forgiveness is the final glue that holds us together. she who forgives is happier. the happiest people keep trying and trying again. they see faults and flaws and mistakes in themselves and everyone around them, but they look for the good. they look for what is beautiful and lovely. they look for what flaws have taught us, like compassion, forgiveness and hope. (perfection defies hope. it is a hopeless state, since it leaves nothing to aspiration.) the happiest people know that love and growth and mistakes and hurt and forgiveness and patience and compassion and compromise are not incompatible. they are essential. they exist in all relationships. if everyone of us is wrong and everyone of us is wronged, then we all desperately need values of compassion, forgiveness and compromise.

love is too important to be perfect. it is too human to never err. love is as fucked up as the rest of the emotional lives of people. love is the most important thing in our lives. to feel love is to look for the good amidst everything else. love is hope. love is forgiveness. love is compassion. in short, love is a product of hurt and errors. love is a second chance.

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