I’ve taken on a volunteer job. It’s a post I created for myself and so I had time to envision great, selfless, helpful work that would go undone if I didn’t step into the breach. My chest and my ego puffed up to such an intolerable size that I felt overcome with the joy of it all.
After all, I express myself well. It is easy for me to chain words together in an meaningful way to be delivered to others in a tidy packet of love letters. Why NOT offer my services to others? After all, not everyone has this facility.
Down I come to reality.
It’s really hard to express someone else’s thoughts in someone else’s voice. (Whine, whine.) And suddenly I’m not able to write what I’m thinking and feeling, which would spring freely from my fingers to the keyboard. Instead I am now responsible to walk through my day, mentally composing what someone might say to someone I haven’t met about an issue that may, in fact, be a bit unclear to me.
What a bummer! And sometimes I’m even wrong. I send my words and the recipient lets me know that I have totally misconstrued who they are, what they have done, and what they are trying to say.
More reality. And what wonderful lessons for me.
What I have learned this week:
1. I am not different. I am not better. I would do well to get out of myself.
Maya Angelou was my teacher in this one. I have this vivid memory of her voice saying, “How can I say I wouldn’t do that. I’m human. If another human has done it…I am capable of it.”*
I have had to dig deep to find a place of commonality with someone who has great need due to thoughts or feelings that seem (to me) to be flawed. I’ve had to learn about myself and realize that I may never have dug my hole so deep, but I have been there. That since I am a mother, wife, sister, daughter; I can follow feelings that I have had (perhaps only for a moment) into their extremities and truly understand the difficulties that arise in relationships.
I’ve come to realize, once again, that I come from a place of great resource and privilege. I have had the luxury of time for thought, of access to counselors and mentors and of a base financial support that allowed me great choices in my life. There, but for the grace of God, go I.
I’ve had to read and re-read requests. I’ve needed to wallow in the pain of others in order to comprehend. And I’ve needed to let go of perfection.
I will not be able to “fix” the situations of others. I won’t be able to say the wonderful words that will heal all wounds. And I can’t always express the love one person feels for another, nor the different ways it may be expressed. But I can begin the process for those who have asked. I can give the bare bones of construction of words that may help them build toward their own success.
Because it isn’t my success that it necessary.
So my new job isn’t what I thought. It’s self-examination. It’s stepping out of my ego. And it’s learning. That’s good for me.
*This is not a direct quote. I have freely paraphrased from her interview on “Master Class” on OWN TV.