I would hope that my readers feel a sense of awe at the quality of human endurance, at the endurance of love in the face of a variety of difficulties; that the quotidian life is not always easy, and is something worthy of respect. I would also hope that readers receive a larger understanding, or a different understanding, of what it means to be human, than they might have had before. We suffer from being quick to judge, quick to make excuses for ourselves and others, and I would like the reader to feel that we are all, more or less, in a similar state as we love and disappoint one another, and that we try, most of us, as best we can, and that to fail and succeed is what we do. –Elizabeth Strout
I think this pretty much sums up the human experience.
Are we not all beggars?
Are we not all broken?
Are we not all divine beings seeking to learn and grow on this mortal world?
Indeed I say yes! And that is the beauty of it.
One of the most profound (to that point) epiphanies I had at the tender age of 23 occurred one day while I was shut away in a rather large but somewhat dreary apartment on a rainy grey day in Herstal, Belgium. My companion was ill and I spent the day reading really old copies of the Ensign. I don’t recall the title or author (although I have since tried–unsuccessfully–to find it), but article seemed–at least to me–to be about coming to terms with your past in order to get unstuck and move forward. The gist of it was “forgive your parents for their imperfections. They loved you the best they could amidst whatever burdens they carried. They did their best with what they had.”
Within the bounds of Strout’s “more or less,” I believe this is true. And believe it is freeing. Letting go of other people’s baggage is freeing and empowering. It lets me be free to be accountable for myself and to choose my way forward. And that is the same whether I am looking back at being raised by imperfect parents, being loved imperfectly by family and friends, or being judged–sometimes unfairly–by children who have not yet forgiven me for being human.
It gives me the freedom to accept and–hopefully, eventually–learn from my mistakes. It gives me the power to gain strength from my successes.
Most hopefully it reminds me to be gracious and to accept those who disappoint, those who wound, and those I love in similar states.
[Day 189 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]