So. 2 things happened recently that I think may be connected.
First, a good friend said “You’re so pessimistic.” She may have been right, but one way or another, I was very troubled by her statement. Because you see, she knows me quite well, and she might be seeing something about me that I totally missed.
I thought long and hard about whether I was a pessimist and decided that, no, I’m actually quite positively oriented. After that I was no longer disturbed, safe in knowing I wasn’t an overly negative person.
The second incident, 2 days later, involved a chat I had with a friend who goes to church regularly. He wondered if I was right to have abandoned my churchgoing habit several years ago. He suggested that I missed 2 benefits of churchgoing—hearing challenging, life-altering words once in a while, and, belonging to a community dedicated to living in opposition to the Zeitgeist, or something closely approximating that.
He suggested that my lack of churchgoing amounted to a kind of error, one that left my faith in jeopardy.
I found myself trying to justify my position, but my justifications didn’t satisfy me. Because he could be right, I may have “lost my faith” so to speak.
I noticed a connection.
My non-religious friend identified a non-positive tendency in me. My somewhat religious friend noticed something lacking in my faith. And, in my estimation, faith and positivity are roughly the same thing viewed through different lenses. They’re both a sort of orientation towards reality where one is open to possibilities.
And in both their assessments, I missed that mark. I’m closed too possibility in some respect, but can’t see it except through their eyes.
I realised that in both cases I felt a profound need to justify my position so I wouldn’t have to change. But change is good—change is critical to growth, to becoming more wholly me. And I want to be as wholly, as perfectly me as possible. To be as fully elaborated a personality as possible.
The unspoken substructure
Whenever I try to justify myself I’m admitting to an unspoken reality—I may be right or “just” in my position, or I may be wrong, or to use the old term, sinful in my position. If I’m wrong I have to change to get right. But if I’m right, I can stay as I am.
That’s why we get judgemental right? There’s sin, or wrong, lurking about somewhere, and we’re identifying it.
What is wrongness? What is sin (again, speaking archaically of course)
This is an archery term that got hijacked by the pious set—sinning is what the arrow does when it misses the target.
So, am I missing the positive target? Am I shutting out the possibilities reality is trying to shove into my bosom?
Am I overthinking this?
(Haha, of course I am, that’s what I do.)
Believing in the outcome you want. Seeing possibility and pursuing it. Expecting reality to be on your side, to work with you and be your friend.
The big question is do I expect life to work in my favour?
“One witness is not enough to convict someone of a crime; at least two witnesses are necessary to prove that someone is guilty. ”
— Deuteronomy 19, xv.
Good News Translation of the Holy Bible
The answer is no. I need to change and start actively seeing possibilities and pursuing them.
That’s a surprise. I thought I did that, but clearly, not enough to hit the target.
It’s time to up my archery skillz.
…and getting the most out of the people in my life.
I have enough sense to be attentive to who I let close to me, and who’s opinion I listen to. So I’m selective. The people close to me, the witnesses to my life, are credible and reliable. I’m pretty sure they want the best for me.
And I want the best for them.
Now, here, 2 of them point out the same issue, the same off-target characteristic they’ve noticed about me.
I’ve got to take that seriously and I’ve got to change. They’re saying “The way you’ve ordered your life in relation to reality is off-target if you want to get the best of what life has to offer.” They’re saying, together in unison, “You better set your sights higher, son, or you’re going to leave a lot of opportunity on the table. Fix that.”
The fact that it bothered me as much as it did proves they’re right—my conscience is the 3rd witness.
So I’m going to set my sights higher.
Boa noite e boa sorte