At approximately 12:24pm, the world had come to a screeching halt for the little boy standing in line. He had been carrying a small carton of blackberries, aptly labeled “Berried Treasure”, and waited patiently with his mother in line. “We’re gonna eat them! We’re gonna eat them when we get home!” he chanted cheerfully. His mother wearily eyed the cashier printing the reciept for the customer in front of them, and during the small moment a middle aged woman grabbed the thin paper, the unimaginable happened. The Berried Treasure had been accidentally opened, spilling its juicy riches across the floor and under the feet of unknowing passerby. The boy’s mother looked down mercilessly. “You opened up the box, Brady. Now you can’t have any blackberries and we have to pick them up.”
Tears spilled one at a time as the little boy picked up each berry and carefully set it into the emptied container.
I’ve been busy changing the world (teaching) and running (last year, ran a marathon), and getting fat (can barely run a 5k now), and keeping my house afloat (cleaning in between episodes of Sherlock I’ve already watched). This whole year of not blogging and focusing on my career and abandoning laundry has given me a powerful take away…
I am bad at failing. And it affects the people I love.
Few of my flaws are as serious as this. When your life goal is to complete a trophy case to showcase to the world that you’ve done something worth doing, the trophy case stays chronically empty. There is not an accomplishment big enough to fill your case so you can close the glass and walk away smiling. You just have to keep trying to fill the spaces with things you think make you “marketable” or “valuable” or “contributing to society”.
When your goal is percieved success, you take it hard when you don’t get there every time you try. So that’s where I am.
I cannot accept my mistakes as mistakes; I must internalize them. My own self-destruction would be punishment enough, but such is my misery that I unleash my unhappiness on a two year old. Although it was just a small incident, to him, the blackberries were special. HE ruined them, and Mother of the Year had to make sure he accepted responsibility, encouarging him to internalize an error any human could make.
So how do I make it stop?
Looking in is more painful and difficult than looking out. When I’m acting on what I feel makes me seem worthwhile, I’m really not enjoying what I’m doing. I’m not a person worth being around. If I have goals that I pursue because I enjoy them or think they are important, I can free myself from the pressure put on me by trophies and accomplishments. I’m free to make mistakes and not hate myself for them. I can live out of love instead of the desire to be loved. I can just buy my son another stupid carton of blackberries. I can teach him that mistakes happen to everyone; that he is worth his own forgiveness, and that life doesn’t have to revolve around Berried Treasures.