|Still drinking out of a |
Not long after arriving in Ecuador Teddy and I were up late (after 9pm) talking. He related some bonehead thing he did that could just as easily have been anyone's bonehead move. Then he smiled and shook his head, saying "Typical Teddy." Then after a short pause and with the residue of the smile still left on his face and his eyes now looking off into some photo album in his brain, he says, "I gotta make typical Teddy mean something else."
Now, I only pick particularly on Teddy because typical Teddy is such a great line (and he's a pretty hard target to miss), because many of us could say the same thing (or should).
We all work to improve ourselves, I think. It's why I love getting old (besides hoping that one day I'll finally look my age, or at least old enough to drink); if you're honestly working to improve yourself, every year is better than the last. One of the greatest barriers to self improvement…no, wait, the only barrier…is ourselves. We tend to rationalize, deflect, and excuse our way out of taking responsibility for ourselves and our failures. There are many things in life we can blame our little failures on: work got in the way; the kid got sick; it's really cold outside; the dog ate my homework.
But most of those things we shift blame to are just the thing of everyday life. And if we don't take life into account, our lives will ultimately be only stories of why not.
Or so we have found out on this sabbatical. We have stripped away not just our regular jobs, but many other commitments, responsibilities, and time-consuming opportunities. We no longer serve on boards and committees in our community. We don't have many social functions to attend. We don't have lots of friends or family nearby whom we haven't seen in a while and need to spend time with. We have, in short, nothing but ourselves and the day in front of us. Awesome, right?
Well, I don't know about you, but I'm afraid I look better with clothes on. And it's kinda like that. Without all those obligations and opportunities that create the structure of our lives and tell us and others who we are, we are stripped down to the raw us, and some of what we find ain't all that pretty. But unless you honestly know where you're starting, it will take longer to get where you want to go.
Still, unless you are looking at your naked self and seeing what you want to be rather what you don't like, you'll end up trying to fix what's wrong, rather than trying to create what's right. And that may be the greatest lesson we've learned here; be ready to look in the mirror, but don't waste time lamenting what you see. Get busy making typical Teddy mean something else.