‘What life is unblemished? We grow as a result of the mistakes we make, not necessarily instead of them. And the twists and turns we take keep us from growing straight as flag poles, yes, but life’s nicks and scrapes make us full of character, fill us full of pith. Yes, I said ‘pith’, ha! Were we smooth and always new and entirely shiny we would be as lances are to others; a total threat to security. Give me a man full of warts and foibles and idiosyncrasies any day, and I’ll show you a human being ready to understand where another person is coming from. Ready to journey. Give me a self-righteous lance and surely some other person will hoist me on my own petard. Compassion arises from having been there, done that. More so, it arises from the sense of not having necessarily to go there again; for to identify, nay to empathize too much is to be back in the place of the hurt and the pain and the negativity and the inability to let go of the past. And the past, re-examined, still does not really let you escape what you are in the present. Been there done that? Don’t need to reinvigorate the bad times? Yet stay quite prepared to re-examine, hold the past up to new light, and to counter it with matured insight. And then let it go!’
And that was the gist of last evening’s dinner conversation, the eleventh day of the 40 days and 40 nights of this passage. M’Lady Nancy has lived 90 years of what might be construed as hell. But she laughs! Let it go! Love it. Appreciate it. Record it. Treasure it. But within, let it go! Love gives!
Nancy at 90 is impassioned with the invigorating sensibility of it all. In her lifetime she has seen 12 people in her immediate family die. Her father, both mothers, all three brothers, her husband, two of her sons, her daughter, and then both of the men she came later to love, each of whom lived here too. And during the war she lost others she loved. And others who loved her as well. Then there are extended family members who have died, the cancerous diseases that some even this day have, and the long ago loss of her beloved Uncle Walter, and... The list is staggering. Add to that the hidden hardships of the words people say, the friends that betray, the things that get stolen, the wrongs that are done, the unfairness that is perpetuated, the advantages that are taken, the taking for granted that is done, the inaccuracy of those who give change, the cheating of those who do service, the non compliance to the requests she makes of those whom she pays to take care of things for her, and one might have an embittered old curmudgeon. But not so. M’Lady is content to let things be. She is happy to find joy in the smallest of things. She long ago, even as a child who lost her first mother at two years of age, discovered a secret. It is simply to love, and in loving to expect nothing (or at least very little) in return.
Corinthians 13 is more than a watchword; it is a living force. Love is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil, rejoices with truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. “Quite the code to live by,” M’Lady affirms, blue eyes sparkling. “I hope I prove worthy.”
Worthy? What demon is there that so renders us uncertain of our value? What monster disallows us from feeling competent? Ridicule? Humility? We do little by hiding beneath the magazine rack (as did the huge Aussie cockroach in the kitchen last night.) We shall be routed out! We do little by taking flight in the face of the harmless (as do the birds should one lean up to the window with a camera). It is our fear of ourselves and of others that so inhibits us from letting go. Before one “drops off the perch” (to use the vernacular here in Oz) one might be better off just to let go of that old perch, and to fly! Return to roost, nest, rest, but at least fulfill the ability to take flight. And so what if one makes unintentional mistakes? Or if one fails? Or if one is misconceived? After all, what life, indeed, stays unblemished? Let it Go!