Woke up at 2am and found myself regretting some things I got wrong over the past seventy-seven years. Wished I had been kinder, or braver, or less self-centered than I was, and had a hard time naming the things I got right. Remembering that the 2am mind is almost always deranged, I finally got up at 4am, dressed, made some coffee, stood out into the dark and cold for a bit, and saw Venus gleaming low in the southeast. The goddess of love: that helped.
Then I read the Jan 14 entry in “A Year With Thomas Merton.” Once again, my old friend had a word I needed to hear, as he reflected on the complex mix of rights and wrongs in his own life: “I am thrown into contradiction: to realize this is mercy, to accept it is love, and to help others do the same is compassion.”
Merton goes on to say that the contradictions in our lives are engines of creativity. It’s true. If we got everything right or everything wrong, there’d be none of the divine discontent or the sense of possibility that animates our growth. What we get wrong makes us reach for something better. What we get right reassures us that the better is sometimes within our reach.
Memo to self: Remember that you are never in your right mind at 2am. Get outside and air out your brain as often as possible. When all else fails, make coffee.
~Parker J. Palmer
who are you without inquiry? without a healthy dose of undermining your own efforts?
inquiry for today~ are you trying too hard to get it all right?
It seems to me that I have greater peace when I am not “trying to be contemplative” or trying to be anything special, but simply orienting my life fully and completely towards what seems to be required of a man like me at a time like this.