The air smells of pleasant decay—the pleasant smell of dying trees. I often say road kill smells good. I get looks. It’s not that I want to bottle it and replace my Chanel, no. I just acknowledge the inevitability of death. I don’t think it’s gross. It doesn’t even make me that sad anymore (although I still hold a soft spot for cats), because that animal meant nothing to me in its life, and it doesn’t mean anything to me in its death. That comes up often in my mind. 9/11 was no exception to my confusion. So, distorted faces and that quickly drawn air held tightly in our lungs comes from… nothing real. Breathe it in. I breathe that body in the same way I take in the smell of drying leaves. Neither could have lived forever, and that would be an exhausting life indeed.
I have to remind myself constantly that much of what I “hate,” or “dislike,” or “find unattractive,” is culturally instilled and doesn’t much reflect the way I really feel. Culture is inescapable—we are influenced by where we come from and who has ever meant anything to us. That is part of what makes all of us so interesting. There is a culture within my household that can never be replicated anywhere. That’s brilliant. But yet: I find that I’m getting to a point in my life in which the harm of value judgments is becoming apparent. Just as culture is inescapable, so is judgment. But for years I used that as an excuse for being an insecure bitch. (I was pretty normal in that regard.) That insecurity was masked by my ability to focus the attention on someone else; on someone with pants that are too tight, or someone who is awkward, or even someone who is unkind to others. That’s an interesting concept. Two wrongs, eh?
Judgment isn’t all that inescapable—it’s just really fucking hard. It’s that hard for three reasons, I think. 1) I do it all the time, and it’s hard to catch. 2) I’m mortified at how often I do it. 3) I force myself to consider why I was thinking or saying that—about others or myself.
I’d say number three is the hardest. It’s exhausting to delve into my insecurities all the time. It’s exhausting to figure out where they come from. And more than exhausting it’s painful.
I’m trying really hard. It’s going to make me a better, happier person. Just like deciding road kill doesn’t actually smell that bad and daddy longlegs are acceptable snacks, and that I should not be sad for the loss of someone I don’t know; most of the parts of our world that we think are bad, are not a big deal, and we'd be happier if we stopped hating. I assert that everyone is good. Every single person is good. Everyone does bad things. Sometimes those bad things are unforgiveable—that’s the nature of human relationships: feelings get hurt. But behind those bad things are feelings of inadequacy or pain. You can’t tell me that in a moment of sadness you’ve never lashed out at someone. Sometimes that’s all I ever see of someone. That happens to all of us. We have one interaction with someone, and it was bad—so we assume we don’t like them, right? And it’s not that I pity them. I don’t pity my “enemies.” I just acknowledge their goodness. I’d want someone to do the same for me.
I hate what religion does to people oftentimes. I hate that the goodness of a person is masked by the hate they’ve been taught. And you know what? That is a lot bigger than ignorance. There are things I know nothing about, that I’m ignorant to, but because compassion is already within us, I can be kind to them. Ignorance isn’t the problem—it’s learning the wrong thing. And still. I don’t pity those people. I will still be kind to them, as hard as it is for me. I will be kind to the goodness in them, and as it arises, I will be honest about my distaste for what I know is incorrect in them. Hate is taught.
Lately this has been on my mind. Actually, it’s on my mind all the time, because apparently I am ruthless in there. And I wanted to share it. I know I talk about this a lot in a lot of different ways. But it took a few different takes for me to finally understand what it means to be compassionate. And I’ve made it clear that I believe we all have it in us. Based on your culture of home, it’s harder for some to get there, but I know it’s possible. And compassion towards others and yourself is the only way to learn to love yourself. The only way. I repeat that statement with an emphasis I can’t give you with the written word.
Love the shit out of yourself. Look (really, really hard if necessary) for the good in others. Tell that voice that tells you that you look fat in that dress you love to shut the hell up. Because you know that hearing it from someone else does nothing. You have to believe it yourself. I just talked to Sara about this, which is why I decided to make a post. I think Sara and I are kicking our own asses, and one another’s. Let me know if you want in on the love.