Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Truth and Consequences

Reaching deep into the heart exposes blood and guts not always pretty to see. The truth of our flaws, frailties and vulnerabilities are as ugly as the gold, sparkle and glitter of our best parts are beautiful.

In this year of forthright introspection, I have been both praised and vilified for my willingness to stand so directly before so many eyes. Despite wonderful support, admiration and encouragement from so many readers, there are those who believe this effort is selfish, egotistical, narcissistic, and downright embarrassing.

I am the first to admit that courage and stupidity are close cousins, often standing hand in hand awaiting judgment depending on an outcome. A slim line separating them can just as easily entangle me in a confusing mess.

It is natural to want to keep our best foot forward and out of the mouth. We want people to like us, to think the best of us, to see and (most importantly) let us know that we are “alright”, certainly at least as good as the next guy. We all crave reassurance, and celebrating the best parts of ourselves should be a part of every day.

Conversely, there is the fear that if people discovered that we are not all perfect, sunshine and roses (like they would be surprised), we fear they would not like us. We would be condemned to live and die alone. For some, reputation is a commodity as precious as diamonds, coveted beyond reason and on display in only the best of lights.

To me, only by stumbling do we really learn how far behind our other foot actually lags. Usually, that distance turns out to be not so great as we fear and the rhythm is quickly regained. By not taking it too seriously, a good laugh at oneself is actually hearty nourishment for the soul.

Being open about our miss-steps, I learn, brings great comfort to discover that others march just as awkwardly. The simple truth is that very few of us are as exceptional as we believe our neighbors to be, including those very neighbors. This realization, once truly absorbed, offers a relief to our loneliness and quiet desperation, unites us to a common mediocrity that is actually quite satisfying.

The challenge sometimes lies in the way that our individual truths may ripple outwards towards those around us. My honesty can reveal more about others close to me than they are comfortable having exposed. In relationship, an action of one which might seem modest may cause embarrassment to the other. Mutual respect sometimes requires restraint. A balance can usually be reached.

I believe that one’s gold is not just the bright reflection on the surface, but a rich texture of all the best and the worst that congeals from deep within to form the nature of a person. To recognize, acknowledge and even celebrate that I am flawed, I stumble, I fall smack on my face, connects me better to myself and others. In as many ways as I reach for the hand that wants to pull me back on my feet, I extend my own to pull someone else out of their particular muck.

Life is rich with opportunity. Focusing only on the good stuff denies a significant portion of the true Self, veils the sunshine in a mysterious cloud. We all like a good story, and that requires conflict and resolution. A story only half told draws yawns and polite but indifferent attention.

We are a people fascinated by triumph and tragedy. We applaud the achievement proportionally to the adversity which is overcome, champion the spirit that perseveres over hardship. Equally, we might mourn a great fall, but without an attempt for redemption, our sympathy sours and eventually condemns the victim to their just desserts.

So long as one humbly recognizes the folly of their stumble and strives to tread more lightly, there are always helping hands.

Please share with your friends


Laurie said...

Kip, I appreciate your honesty and candour. You are "real" down to the bone and it is refreshing. I remember a quote I read a while back that said, be who you are and let the world deal with it. Kip, you be who you are. It's a wonderful guy, a REAL guy. I appreciate the hand you have extended to me when I was falling. You can grab my hand any time my friend! :O)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

A very real post.

I for one have both enjoyed and been fascinated with your personal journey since discovering your blog. I appreciate your honesty and ability to recognise the difficulty of change, of wanting something new, something different, something which heals.