A group of seniors were being interviewed on the radio about what kind of person they were when they were younger, versus today. Without any of them intending to, or likely even noticing, all of them gave the same answer.
All the answers sounded different in that they involved different qualities and situations, but all of them essentially said: a) I have this one quality or skill I’m known for, b) plus I had these particular experiences that helped changed me for the better in this particular way that I’m proud of, and c) I knew it would help me if I changed this one other thing about me but, oh well, I tried but it didn’t work out and I eventually I just gave up.
My favourite part was how comfortable they were with themselves. They were not only owning their failures, they were even letting themselves have their victories. They were proud about what they could do, humbled of what they had learned, and they happily accepted what they couldn’t do. In listening to them, the genius was in the balance.
They hadn’t built some perfect souls like so many are trying to. We’re all trying to be mistake-free, with a perfect life. Wisdom tells us that what we really want to know how to do is fall.
If we’re really good at falling and getting back up, then we’re destined to be some kind of champion just through mere repetition is that’s what it takes. Those seniors experienced a lot of unwanted falls and eventually ran out of time to recover from all of them.
Rather than feel like failures, those low points were when they realized there was no point in worrying about changing. They always seemed to be too busy living to ever get to prioritizing those changes anyway –and in hindsight, most people end up quite satisfied with their lives.
Those older people had no other choice due to time and mortality. They had to accept who they were. But the lesson for all of us was that, when they did that, it felt great. Accept yourself. You’re worth it.
Note: it wasn’t like they were unaware. They were always aware of how they were challenging for others as a person because everyone is challenging to some kind of personality. It’s only a matter of figuring out which type. But even then….
We are who we are and, after a lifetime of trying, eventually those seniors surrendered and decided those so-called faults weren’t worthy of any more attention. They said things like, I probably should have spoke up more, but that just wasn’t me; or, I know was too pushy a lot of the times but what are you gonna do? I did get a lot done; or something like, I spent two decades drunk. I can’t get that back, so I’m just thankful for being sober today.
Rather than spend much time or emotional energy on the negative thing, they shifted pretty fast to an oh well perspective. What are you gonna do? several of them said. It was very casual and comfortable. That’s the sweet sound of surrender. That’s someone no longer striving because they’re too busy being.
That’s good guidance for all of us. As we seek and find out who we are–all of us, warts and all–we must get to a place where we can truly accept that person and then just live our own lives.
Accept that we were never supposed to play any other part but ourselves. That flawed, sometimes embarrassing person is who the world really wanted us to be. Thank you for playing your part. Without you, the rest of us would be missing out on an important part of life.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.