Tuesday, April 1, 2014

DREEM or DREAM? Honoring Your So-called Failures

Honoring Your So-called Failures

This post is about honoring YOU, even when YOU get it wrong. It is about finding the right in your wrong, the beauty in your trying.

Zuri’s Story

Aunt Jasmine and Zuri were sitting at the kitchen table. Jasmine was in one of her nostalgic moods, Zuri could tell. Jasmine told an old story about Sherece, Zuri’s mom and her (Jamsine) when they were teenagers. As Jasmine talked, she just laughed-- her eyes a bit distant as if they could see some far off place or time. Zuri loved to watch Jasmine when she talked like this. She knew that Jasmine and her mom had a hard time growing up. Still, she also knew that her mom and her aunt had lots of good, really good times.

Aunt Jasmine looked at Zuri pensively. She said, “Zuri, you’ve always been such a serious little girl, always trying to get everything right, always trying to make everything perfect.”

Shy to be seen like this, Zuri cast her eyes down and shook her head “No.”

“Yes little one,” Jasmine said. “I remember a time, years ago, Lord-- you must have been three or four years old. You wanted me to help you write a story. I just couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think kids at your age even knew the alphabet, let alone writing, and a writing a story at that. Still, I told you I’d help you write. So, you sat there coloring and writing. Do you remember that?”

Zuri shook her head, “No Auntie, no I don’t. I wish I did.”

Jasmine explained, “Well, there you were sitting there working so hard. You stopped and asked me, ‘Auntie Jazz, how do you spell dream?’ I told you really slowly, ‘D-R-E-A-M, dream.’ You looked up at me, your eyes wide open like you had done something wrong…. do you remember that?”

Zuri shook her head again, “No, I can’t remember.”

“Well, there you were-- sad, sad because you wrote it wrong. I couldn’t see your paper. You started to scribble all over the word you wrote as hard as you could. I grabbed your hand and said, ‘Wait, what are you doing to your little story?’ You told me you got it wrong. You told me you spelled it, ‘D-R-E-E-M.’ You said it was ruined-- the whole thing.”

“I stopped you right there and took a sheet of paper and showed you DREAM and DREEM. I showed you both. I told you about what I learned in school, “When two vowels go walking the first one does the talking. /e/ first then the two vowels together make the long /e/ sound.’ I showed you how the Ds, the Rs, the Es, and the Ms were all the same. I showed you how you had the word almost all right.”

Zuri had a feeling she remembered that day.

Jasmine said, “You sad to me ‘From here’ and you pointed to the DREEM, ‘getting to DREAM will be easy.’”

Jasmine and Zuri smiled an I-love-you smile at each other.

Jasmine said, “That’s right. Your mistakes are just ladders to the stars honey. You keep your heart open and do your work and you will get to that dream—no matter how you spell it.” They both laughed.

Right then it came to her. Zuri remembered the story she was writing. It was a story of a little girl whose dream it was to build a giant ladder to a wishing star. When she got there, she was going to wish her mom the best job in the world, a fancy new car, a really nice man to take her out, and all of the groceries they could ever eat.

Zuri thought about it. DREEM or DREAM it didn’t matter. It was little girl trying to make it right and Jasmine was able to see.

Zuri remembered something she read in one of my journals in The Yoga Bag. She remembered the Four Immeasurables: Loving-kindness, Joy, Compassion, and Equanimity. As she thought of her little self and her Aunt Jasmine, she thought of compassion.

According to Wallace (2010- link below), compassion “implies caring tremendously about the suffering of others, as if it were one’s own (p.127). Zuri knew that Aunt Jasmine felt deep compassion for her.

She remembered something else in The Yoga Bag- Self-Compassion http://www.self-compassion.org

“Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment? Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?

You may try to change in ways that allow you to be more healthy and happy, but this is done because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are. Perhaps most importantly, having compassion for yourself means that you honor and accept your humanness.

Things will not always go the way you want them to. You will encounter frustrations, losses will occur, you will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, fall short of your ideals. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us. The more you open your heart to this reality instead of constantly fighting against it, the more you will be able to feel compassion for yourself and all your fellow humans in the experience of life. http://www.self-compassion.org/what-is-self-compassion/definition-of-self-compassion.html

Zuri realized that by showing compassion for her, Aunt Jasmine was actually teaching Zuri self-compassion. She was learning how to love herself even when she wasn’t perfect, even when she couldn’t build a ladder to the stars and save her mom—even then.

As she left her thoughts and came back to her time with Jasmine, she said, “I love you Auntie Jasmine.”

Jasmine said, “I love you too.”

The Process

This story actually happened years ago only the little girl was Chloe, my 16-year-old daughter and Jasmine was me. Chloe tried to obliterate her attempt at writing DREAM when she was only one letter off. As Jasmine told Zuri, I told Chloe how close she was to getting it right.

When we obliterate our so-called failures, we lose a chance to learn from them. We lose the chance to allow the effort to get us closer to where we are headed. In this case, Chloe and Zuri need only replace one letter to get it right. Why obliterate and start new?

Look your so-called failures deep in the eye. Straight on. See where you got it right. With compassion, acknowledge your slips in judgments, lapses in knowledge, quirks in the process, and then honor all you got right. From that place right there, try again.

Those mistakes, they are your ladders to the stars. Climb on and with a big huge bundle of self-compassion—try again.

Here is to informed do-overs and next tries!



The Yoga Bag

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