Some days I feel I’m a gift to mankind. Other days I’m not sure if I even exist. Sometimes I’m so loving it’s borderline awkward. Other times you could cry me a river and I couldn’t care less if I tried.
Today I’m just a joke.
I’m learning Spanish and getting pretty good at it. Yet this morning I started making stupid mistakes. Forgetting the articles, misreading the assignments, not paying attention to the right sentence structure. Just not…performing at all. None of those could be called honest mistakes or common errors to make. They were pointing out my negligence, my lack of attention, my sheer idiocy.
I should have known better.
When I made my morning coffee, I spilled some on the floor. I’m usually so careful and balanced and that almost never happens. My day started with a headache of puzzled frustration.
How could I suddenly be so stupid and clumsy? I know for certain that I should be able to be better.
Funny how I preach inner peace, but as soon as I fail to uphold my personal standard for how good a human I think I should be, it all falls to pieces.
The small stuff didn’t end there. Throughout my morning I was acting like an absentminded professor with reduced capacity for detail and accuracy. I noticed a part of me becoming appalled by my own shortcomings, offering constructive criticism, What’s wrong with you? You’re an embarrassment. Get a grip!
Until I found myself curling up on the couch, not wanting to do anything productive for fear of failing myself again.
Wondering at the wrong-with-me-today, I thought about taking a walk with the dog to clear my head. Before I could get up from the couch, a memory hit me.
It was summer and the forest near my house was green and sunshiny. The dog had found something interesting under a tree and didn’t come to me when I called for him. After a bit of yelling, I walked up to the tree, already angry at his life-choices. As soon as I saw what he was nibbling at, my anger switched to outrage.
Some hapless creature had puked under a tree and my dog was nose deep in the results. When I finally got his attention I scolded him. Not physically, but with all the venom I could add to my tone and the choice of words.
His ears and tail swooped down and stayed down. He followed me out of the woods, but acting as if he was sick… running from tree to tree with no reaction to myself or anything on the road. I tried to give him commands, tried to play with him, but got ignored completely. I remember being puzzled in a cave-woman sort of way, He was a bad dog. I told him he was a bad dog. Why is he no longer a good dog?
Listening to that thread of inner logic, it started making a bit of sense. I was his caretaker, his master, his alpha-whatever. I had told him he was a very bad dog. He listened to me, accepted it and became one. A dog incapable of taking direction, playing or enjoying himself. Bad dog.
Much like I had been a bad human this morning, making stupid mistakes and slapping myself inside my head for each little mishap.
Back then I solved the situation by letting go of my anger and telling the dog what a good dog he was and how lucky I was to walk with him. He believed me again. I saw his natural joie de vivre return to his eyes and ears. We played fetch and went home as best buddies. With words of encouragement and affirmation, I cured my dog from being ‘bad’.
Could I now do that with myself?
Tell myself that I don’t need to be better than I am, even if I think I should be?
Can I instead offer myself loving words of encouragement? Tell myself I’m still a good human even if I can’t seem to perform at my best?
Can I? Even if I don’t feel like it?
Honestly, I’m not in a place to give myself or anyone promises right now, but I’ll try something.
Today I can be a bad human. I give myself a permission to be stupid and awkward. I can be in the wrong place at the right time. I can stumble and hit a toe if that happens. I can feel sad about it or mad or whatever I feel. Heck, I’ll even allow myself to be nasty to myself if that really wants to happen again.
Now that felt better. Thanks.