Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mistakes are Made ... oh yeah

I am just now getting used to seeing my reflection without Jake at my side.

Based on yesterday's thoughts, here's a list of seven virtues according to the cosmology of Reya. (These are behavioral and attitudinal, most effective when applied to the self as well as to others):

1. Respect
2. Humor
3. Generosity
4. Kindness
5. Forgiveness
6. Curiosity
7. Gratitude

What a stainless, smooth, guilt-free life it would be if I could always, in every situation, embody these qualities. I am not always true to my personal ideas of virtue. In some situations, I behave in a distinctly non-virtuous manner, oh yeah. I have a temperament of excess in many ways which rules out the classical virtues. Chastity? Temperance? Whoa ... these are not qualities I can relate to in any way. I set the bar perhaps a bit lower - making respect the bottom line. But I can't even muster respect sometimes.

I try not to berate myself too much when I figure out I've been disrespectful, stingy, greedy or thankless. I believe we humans are built to "make mistakes" as well as to behave beautifully. If we don't trip and fall every now and then, how will we ever learn to stand up again? If we don't suffer some indignities, if we are never wounded, how can we learn to heal?

In fact there are some situations in which transgressions into bad behavior act as a catalyst that breaks up stuckness, that actually helps awaken all the parties involved, which can lead to the more fully lived life. "Mistakes" can be so enlivening. I've seen it happen again and again, as the eventual result of my own mistakes and transgressions.

My list of sins includes qualities that keep me from evolving, also from gathering wisdom (always hard-won if you ask me) from the technicolor experience of being human. Here's my list of sins:

1. Guilt
2. Codependence
3. Blame
4. Revenge
5. Compulsiveness
6. Paralysis of Opinion and Behavior
7. Apathy

We humans try so hard to be good, to do everything "right" - whatever that means. Our expectations of ourselves are ridiculous. When we fail in our idealistic attempts at perfection, we expend a whole lot of energy punishing ourselves and others. Many times we exhaust ourselves with guilt and blame, for instance, leaving no energy to actually learn anything from our experiences.

The one thing I believe separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is our tendency to second guess ourselves. In our hearts we are each of us so good, we mean so well. And yeah, we make mistakes. So what? We're not the first people to make mistakes, nor by any means will we be the last. Mea culpa. Onwards & upwards. Shalom.


willow said...

You've stolen my list of sins. (oh yeah) I tend to spend a whole lot of time beating myself up. I need to spend less time second guessing my self and get on with things. Another thought provoking post, Reya.

ellen abbott said...

I like your list of virtues. Chastity? How is that a virtue when the strongest biological imperative is to reproduce? I like your list of sins too. I'm totally guilty of apathy. I guess that's two sins.

jeanette from everton terrace said...

I feel I'm doing fairly well with the virtues except #5. Forgiveness is hardest for me. I wonder about it often. Can we forgive, let go of the resentment about the thing but move on without that person? Do you have to tell them you forgive them or can you just do it in your heart and still not have them in your life?
The list of sins...well...Guilt and Compulsiveness (which I never thought of as a sin before) would be my biggest struggles. Though my husband took a photo of a sign that read "I'm not bossy, I just have better ideas than you" and everyone knew it was for me - even I thought it was spot on. Hmmm...onwards and upwards as you said.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

another great post.

thanks. all we can do is strive. do the best we can do and forgive ourselves when we don't make it.

when the title of today's post popped up on my sidebar, i thought oh, i wonder if reya just read frazen's new book freedom - in 560 pages he tackles what you summed up on your personal level in today's succinct post!

Reya Mellicker said...

Willow you are as good as gold!

Ellen, you apathetic?? Wow. I don't see that in you. You seem quite passionate to me.

Jeanette you DO have better ideas than anyone else. Bossiness is next to godliness. You go girl.

Reya Mellicker said...

I think publishers make writers string out their ideas over many more pages than necessary.

Hey Kim - hello!!

I think striving is what makes life interesting. Yes? I say yes.

Cyndy said...

That's a great pair of lists. I'm guilty of guilt, but that's fairly easy to fix once it's happened.

Hannah said...

excellent. a great one for me to read today. Love, Hannah

The Bug said...

I've got humor & curiosity down pat - now I just have to work on the rest of them!

Actually I'm pretty good at forgiveness, but it's less of a conscious act than a gradual lessening of my dudgeon - it just goes away & I'm left wondering what I was so upset about.

Linda Sue said...

react or shut down, everything in the middle is flux.Being "good" is not difficult if one does not have some sort of agenda, it just comes naturally- that doing the right thing thAng. So, you have been correct all along - basically that people are good at heart-"want" complicates things.

Reya Mellicker said...

Everything complicates, if you ask me! Even not wanting complicates.

When I see that magazine Real Simple, I have to laugh. Life is anything but simple after all. Also funny is that the magazine's contents are all about buying stuff. Does that simplify? I think not!

Evening Light Writer said...

I come from a long line of worriers, sometimes I worry about not worrying. That would be my number one sin: worry.But really, your list of virtues is wonderful and all them I'm striving to use in my life, especially forgiveness.

Reya Mellicker said...

Forgiveness is tough for me, too. I'd like to be like Ms. Bug - hey, Bug, can you teach us how you do it??

Tom said...

i recently made the mistake of calling out a co-worker and standing up for myself, and of course now I feel terribly guilty about hurting someone else's feelings. Ahg! Is there something between a do-gooder and serial killer mentality?

Bee said...

I've just been reading, and then writing about, Freedom -- and Mouse is exactly right! The funny thing is not only do the characters constantly strive to "be good" and act rightly, but one of them even writes an autobiography titled "mistakes were made."

I think your virtues are truly perfection to strive for! To the list of sins I would add something like superiority/snobbery.

steven said...

reya i grew up in a home where the ambience was methodism - real english methodism - but the actuality of my experience was life had to be lived. so there was this tearing between two senses of this world and then of course i found my own sentience and thought about life in colour. living in this place for me is about bringing as much goodness as i am able into the spheres of my existence while i am here. when i mess up - for mess up i do - i like to think of brian eno's aphorism "look upon your mistakes as hidden intentions." then i can unpack the mistake as a worthy step on my own journey and on the journey of those whose experience i didn't fit either with clarity or absolute goodness! i reflect a lot on my experiences. they all have some purpose or value and in my own cosmology arrive much like dreams - with a purpose that it's my work to unpack. today's posting on the golden fish would be a primo example!!! steven

Reya Mellicker said...

"look upon your mistakes as hidden intentions."

That is just perfect.

Steven I read that poem repeatedly today, even posted it on FB. It kicked my ass in such a perfect way. Wow.

John Hayes said...

Excellent lists of virtues & sins, & a fine meditation on how we miss the mark thru expectation.

karen said...

Most interesting list of sins I've seen in a while, much more understanding and less condemnatory (is that a word?) than the usual lot! It is good to remember to stop being so hard on ourselves every now and again..

The Pollinatrix said...

It's funny that even though I have the same sense of non-connection to "temperance," the Temperance card is one of my favorite in the Tarot. But I like how it's been reinterpreted in certain decks, like "Art" in the Crowley deck, and "Integration" in the Osho Zen deck. Integration actually would be at the top of my virtues list.

Kerry said...

I like your lists much much better than those classical ones. I was teasing, mostly, when I brought up Chastity and Temperance in my comment the other day. Chastity seems ridiculously outdated. Temperance, though, if it could mean mindfulness and moderation, this seems to me a virtue. Maybe especially in American politics these days.