With an election looming it’s hard not to think about values. We are bombarded by ads which presume an emotional connection to our values that will override our commonsense and analytical processes. Reading the news, scrolling through the Facebook feed, listening to the radio, I hear many kneejerk reactions that reveal an underlying assumption: that we should expect to see our Values reflected in the world around us. And when we don’t we should be outraged, and look for someone to blame.
This leads me to wonder… how many of us actually live a life according to those values? And how many sculpt our values to fit nicely into our life? And what do we do when they (our values and our lives) change?
When I was young I valued idealism. Often my idealism prevented my from listening. Life lessons have revealed a destructive side to that value. While Martin Luther King was idealistic, so was Adolf Hitler. (I can only hope it is obvious to the reader that one accomplished constructive change and the other didn’t) It is our human qualities, lessons and actions that take idealism on a path to constructive or destructive ends.
When I was young, the dramatic contrasts defined my values. As I age, varying shades of gray color not only my hair but also my perceptions of the world.
Bill Withers, in the documentary “Still Bill” said this (more or less, I am quoting from memory) “What I hope for before I die is to accept everything” His wisdom, and his beautiful music, takes my breath away
Yes, love. Not the Romantic kind we fall for in the movies, but the simple, uneventful love that grows with daily care.
What I have struggled with so much on my forties… taking responsibility for your own life and resisting the urge to judge or blame. It’s work, but I think it is the only way to grow. Every action we take not only defines us, it sculpts us into who we will be tomorrow.
Real change happens, but it’s so slow we often don’t notice it. So we complain, give up and excuse ourselves. Along with responsibility, this one has been the biggest lesson of my forties. Patience truly is a virtue, and by taking a breath and letting things unfold we can learn to treat our lives, and the world, with a more careful touch.
This one was a challenge for me. I try to be nice to everyone and I aim to please. In learning to assert my own personal boundaries I have also learned to respect others. A greater sense of self is not equivalent to selfishness, but rather strength and real confidence.
Which leads me to the Center of the gray scale….
Trust (also known as faith)
Learning to accept and take responsibility for my life has given me a greater love, for myself and the people in my life, and patience, when we all don’t live up to my ideals.