“But the right way to wholeness is made up of fateful detours and wrong turnings. — Jung
“Because what calls to us is timeless, the call can come at any time. At each turn in the road our life’s work awaits us; thus our calling keeps calling us no matter our age or position or condition in life.” — Michael Meade
Have compassion for everyone you meet
even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit,
bad manners or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.
~ Miller Williams
My youngest brother often claimed he had never made a wrong move or decision in his life. A question mark appeared over my head whenever he said that. It didn’t seem possible or human. Late in life, in his sixties, he married a woman who encouraged him to steal my inheritance by capturing my mother’s power of attorney so that when she died he could cancel my inheritance for himself, which he did.
He divorced her soon after, saying she had made him “lose his family.” He also disappeared from view. When people ask where he is now I have to say I don’t know. I haven’t been able to find him.
That kind of mistake is hard to rectify. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life and I don’t expect to stop making them until I die, though none have been so serious for others. I can’t imagine being so careful for so long and then doing something that makes me go into hiding the rest of my life. He watched all his older siblings do stupid things as he was growing up — one brother died from taking one too many chances.
Still, I don’t think you can live without making mistakes. Misjudgements are part of being human, of being alive on the planet. That’s how we grow, it’s how we learn. Not that I don’t regret some of my acts in life, but my awareness of who I am and what the consequences of my actions have been on others — including other people, animals and the earth itself — has grown more compassionate as I’ve evolved.
That’s the point. We are not born perfect. The idea that we can avoid all error in life is a childish fantasy, in my opinion. Our foresight is intrinsically flawed. Even our hindsight is a work in progress. We are growing our hearts and our vision through how we navigate our challenges. Our biggest mistakes come from trying to be too careful. We don’t realize how much we have to learn about living, how much we’re blind to, how much our culture and the conclusions we’ve inherited have blinded us.
Everybody deserves compassion, especially someone who has stepped in a deep hole and can’t get out. “Everyone cries,” the song goes, everyone suffers. Falling victim to one’s own blindness is to be expected. The healing balm is compassion.
The human condition, with its wounds and scars, can only be healed through compassion. Somehow that is the most difficult challenge for us. The last thing we come to is forgiveness, empathy. I admit it has been hard for me to let go of a sense of injustice. It’s been hard for me to let go of blame, to accept my role in the drama, to see the positive lessons and create something good out of it.
But I refuse to let bitterness install itself in me. I was intentionally injured by someone I cared about, but I keep finding that I have grown into a more creative person, a kinder person, even. Interesting how that happens. We seem to need our challenges in order to grow.
We’re living a mystery, full of paradoxes.