When I was about 14 years old, I discovered nothing was black and white, not my parents, not school, not me. “Grey” was one of the hardest concepts I have ever had to learn. Nothing’s all good nor all bad. We are all all the time a shade of grey in search of improvement.
Milan Kundera in his unforgettable “Unbearable lightness of being” put it nicely. To deprive the memory of a person of his bad traits is to disrespect him. We are all white and black mixed and the unique manner each of us balances that imperfection is what makes our core. The way we embrace ourselves and try or fail to make the most of us is what makes us us.
A Ted Talk the other day said how boys are brought up to take risks whilst girls are brought up to be perfect. And the expectation of perfection makes us give up in front of difficult tasks where boys take difficult tasks as a challenge that entices them. Expectation of perfection is probably what makes us too stuck in intolerance and probably what made Thatcher and Merkel such fowel leaders.
Once in a sermon my favourite priest spoke of forgiveness. Forgiveness of ourselves and forgiveness of others. Being able to forgive ourselves is key to self-improvement. Being able to forgive others is key to love.
I have trouble forgiving others. I tend to take the hurt the first time people hurt me and just give up on them. Something deep inside me breaks and I struggle to rebuild anything after that. I tend to slowly but surely cut them out of my life. But the hurt is no better friend than the friend him/herself so I’m the one loosing in the end.
This is of course wrong. None of us are perfect and innevitably everyone will one day let us down. We must be willing to discuss it, to expose ourselves and our emotions, to reach out, to complain if need be, to give people a chance to do better by us, or not, accept them with their divergences and love their convergences anyway, have the humility to understand our ways are not the only good ways, and have the love to love other people’s greyness like we hope anyone out there will love ours.
And if our friends can’t be bothered to hear our point of view, so be it, at least we didn’t give up without a fight. Happiness is worth fighting for.
I’m trying to learn this now. Again.