Death of a friend

Last week, I lost a college friend to suicide. It is such a tragedy, in so many ways. But personally, it is a tragedy for me in large part because I completely lost touch with this friend after college graduation.

I know that happens all the time, and I’m not really sure we would have ever been great friends. In fact, this particular friend used to annoy and irritate me all the time because we were very different. Or at least I thought we were very different, and so it was probably mostly my fault that we struggled to be friends.

All these years later, I realize that I should have told him how I really admired so many of his qualities: he was friendly, warm, sincere, talented, and very giving. Those things matter so much more than anything else in this life.

I hope I learned something from this experience. Starting today, I’m going to reach out to some old friends to let them know how precious they are. There is just no point in waiting until they are gone to remember the good things. And there is really no point in holding on to the memories of stuff that’s not so good, and probably not very important at all anyway.

Perfection is a scam artist

Perfect. The word has a seductive ring to it. Its very nature implies oh-so-smoothly that you can be so much better, so much more, than you are right now. To me, that sounds oddly like that old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Scam artists profit by preying on our needs (“turn $100 into $100,000 – it’s easy!”) and innermost hopes and dreams (“look like a supermodel – fast – if you just take this pill!“). Perfection is just a concept, but it works in the same insidious and harmful manner.

Even worse, perfection demands that you must be something else entirely different from who you are right now, a new and improved version of yourself. And in doing so, it robs us of enjoying our experience of being human. In our quests to throw the perfect birthday party, create the perfect wedding proposal experience, write a perfect paper, or manage a perfect project, we lose sight of the beauty of our shared humanity. Humans, by definition, cannot be perfect. Perfection is reserved solely for the Divine, however you chose to define it.

Humans learn and grow by making mistakes. We grow when we make poor choices, apologize, learn to make better judgment calls, and make a better choice next time. My father is fond of repeating another old saying, “The person who never made a mistake never learned anything.” I want to spend my time with people who make mistakes! People who forgive me when I make mistakes. People who can assess a situation and know when good enough is simply enough, when done enough is really enough. People who spend their time caring about me and my family and their communities, instead of who spend their time fussing and fretting and trying to achieve the impossible perfection.

I promised myself a long time ago that I would dump the idea of perfection. I want to enjoy my journey to live to be 100 years old, and I fully intend to make mistakes along the way. Hopefully I will learn from my mistakes, but mainly I just want to enjoy every minute on this earth as a human being, and to love the people around me so much that they aren’t afraid of making mistakes, either.

Minor injuries, body and soul

Over the past several years, I have learned that my body and heart have a way of telling me when something is wrong. After several weeks of minor injuries to my body, all related to overdoing it physically, I figured it’s time to reassess and retune. So I went to see the sports medicine physician and I’ll be doing some physical therapy and have no doubt I’ll be right as rain in no time. My hope is that this work will help me to correct whatever it is I’ve been doing wrong with my body!

Then over the past several days, it’s become clear that there is also something amiss in my soul, which I can tell because my heart is hurting (in an emotional sense, anyway – nothing physically wrong with my heart!). I think this will be more difficult to pinpoint and fix. Since a quick trip to the doctor can’t help me with this, I plan on praying, meditating, and listening a lot. I’m not always very good at listening, so I have to be careful to listen with smart ears and a quiet mind.

Hurting is not very enjoyable, but it is very human.

Forgiving starts with me

I think the most challenging aspect of forgiveness, at least for me, is that I need to start by forgiving myself. I was born a perfectionist, so this is something that’s not easy for me to do.

I’m also fairly certain that being hard on ourselves is part of the human condition…and so, this is something I’m going to really concentrate on in the near future.