Every now and then, I get dragged down by negative voices in my head, judgmental and regretful of some of the choices I’ve made. There’s a perfectionist side to me, that wants to be doing everything in a neat progression, with clear vision, tying all the
loose ends as I go, everything in its right place; never hurting anyone, including myself. Unfortunately, life tends to not be as simple as that. The reality often is this:
I make messes of different sizes, and then I clean them up, learning to not make the same mess next time. (Though even that’s debatable.) Perhaps the trick is that we learn to clean up quicker? Or clean up as we go…?
I sometimes forget that this is all a process, and that we’re all going at it at our own pace. At times I look at other people with some envy; those who seem to have put it all together at a very young age. Successful, visionary people, living a prosperous life, doing what they are here to do, giving the illusion that they are not making any of the aforementioned messes.
I’ve been reading a book by Diane Dreher, called The Tao of Inner Peace. It puts a slightly different spin on this:
“Our lives, as well, have their cycles. Some people are early bloomers, at their peak in high school and their early twenties. Springing up like corn stalks in the hot summer days, they come to harvest in one short season.
Others grow more slowly. Watching the corn stalks shoot up above them, they lose heart, wondering if they’ll ever harvest anything of value. The seventeenth-century poet John Milton wrote a sonnet despairing of how little he’d accomplished by age 23. Yet at 59 he published Paradise Lost, the greatest epic in the English language.
While a corn stalk comes to harvest in one short season, an oak tree takes years to mature. But then it towers above the cornfield, its branches reaching towards the sky, bearing fruit for many a season.”
A corn stalk is no better than an oak tree; an oak tree is no better than the corn stalk. They’re just different, with a different purpose, and there’s a place for each. The way I see it, the messes I’m making, (and the clean-up afterwards) are the growth rings in my oak tree. However painful the experiences were, they end up becoming a part of the beautiful whole. Judgment and regret are needless here.