I am on the plane ride home and just finished watching 'perks of being a wallflower' for the first time. 5 hours to go until I am home in Minneapolis.
What have I learned from this trip? Or maybe better said- reminded of? The importance of not doing this life alone. The necessity of kindness and grace and compassion. Why humans are such beautiful and other times desolate creatures. The kindness of a cab driver, a bellman, a sister. The courage and sweetness of street performers. How we some of us pay a lot to walk the same walk as someone elses daily commute to work. How the entire world exists in our relationships with others.
Our worst enemy and our best friend is our mind. We give it so much power over ourselves sometimes without bothering to train it. I can walk through paris in awe, i can see the eiffel tower as nothing extraordinary and focus on my headache instead. Our minds can filter the light of the past into the present world and color our days black. Our minds also can ignore the predicaments of pain or numbness by noticing the beauty of the few on the grass.
Humans are all tragically flawed- like the heroes I used to read about in Greek mythology and Shakespeare for my English classes. We are great, well meaning people who yearn to do good and have often at least one thing that can really take us away from that. And if left to our own devices we can let that tragic flaw consume us- or at least stop us. The world is needed- God is required to save us from ourselves. My tragic flaws I know at least include: focusing on what I don't accomplish, trying to impress others, worrying about the future.
I write when I feel. I feel sad right now because of how much I and others can relate to the hero in 'perks of being a wallflower'. How We know how isolating sadness and loneliness can be. Jonathan would have loved that movie. i think one of the best parts of that movie was that the hero never once saw himself as a victim.
And then I think about my friends and family members who have suffered much more than I have. And then we let what we have suffered dictate who we say we are. And then how we only accept the love we think we deserve as the movie says.
That is one reason the story of Jesus is such a unusual phenomena- because if it is true that his death was a demonstration of his love to each of us- it leaves us in a conundrum. None of us believe we deserve someone dying for us- the love that such an act requires. And yet there it is- and all we can do is hope to embrace that idea- that gift. What does it take to allow someone to love us? An acknowledgement that we are at least in some small way worthy.
I guess what I took away from my trip is that one of the things that unites people from different cultures and places and backgrounds is that we all want to love and be loved. I listened this weekend to people speak in hebrew and french and english- it didnt matter the words they were saying it was written all over their faces. We all want to belong, to be valued and respected and appreciated. We all want a family, a group of friends, a community to serve. We crave to be heroes but only so far as we are positively impacting our surrounding world somehow. And many of us fight valiantly against our shortcomings- doing our best to be better people.
Today- I ask you to do something. To thank someone who loves you more than you feel you deserve. And then turn around and go love someone more than you think they deserve.
For in the puzzles of the day to day exploration of what to do and what is right and who we are and what is good- I think the above acts, while not necessarily providing all the answers- are assuredly worthwhile.