It’s easy to forget we aren’t indestructible. Blinded by the burning, soaring highs of being on this earth, it’s easy to feel untouchable and firmly in control; hands on the wheel, life grasped tight and warm in both fists. We forget we don’t possess infinite wisdom or the ability to know the outcome of every choice we make. Our skin isn’t dragon scale, our eyes aren’t all-seeing, and our hearts rarely crave what makes sense.
We stumble, we fall.
Sometimes we let people see our tears, our anger, and our passion that – for some reason – we struggle to hide. We love too much, too little, or at the wrong time. We are quick to blame or not quick enough. We laugh when we shouldn’t, grimace when a smile should curve our lips. Our attention wanders or is focussed laser-precise on something not made to last, not worthy of our unwavering concentration. We hurt ourselves, and others, with intention, ignorance, and regret.
Lessons learned, mistakes made and made again – none of this is new. The people before us, separated by centuries, have tripped over all the same stones we do. Bleeding hearts and self-loathing have crafted stories, plays, paintings, and essays that snake through time to connect our despair and joy to that of people long dead. We are all the same in the sense that we are born knowing nothing, and die knowing but a little.
And yet we berate ourselves endlessly for the mistakes we make.
“I should have known better.” “I should have seen the signs.” “I should have listened.” “I should have been there.” “I should have stayed.” “I should have left.” “I shouldn’t have said that.” “I shouldn’t have done that.” “I’m so stupid, how did this happen?”
Forgive yourself because – like all before you and all to come – you’re human.
Forgive yourself for the mountains you couldn’t climb, the oceans you couldn’t swim. Forgive yourself for the waves you couldn’t ride, the tide you couldn’t fight. Forgive yourself for not seeing the storm before the clouds, the lightning before the flash. Forgive yourself for all the times you didn’t know better, and the times you did and acted anyway. There will be more peaks to conquer and more oceans to cross. There will be more storms to brave, and moments and choices will appear before you, opportunities to use what you have learned. The pain you’ve caused, the wounds you carry, the scars you hide – don’t bear the human condition like the world upon your back.
We stumble, we fall – and we rise.
Please forgive yourself.
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