Today, I came to the realization that I have been trying to balance my checkbook every single day. Not, my literal checkbook, but instead more like a book of good and bad deeds. I reconcile this book every single day in at least a dozen different ways. I am one of those ‘humans’ who have made some really bad choices. As you get older, you come to realize that most humans do this. They may not admit it, or even share knowledge of it. But, in most ways, most folks balance those checkbooks in some quiet way, in their own ways.
Now, that’s not to say that I’ve done drugs, had an abortion, or cheated on a spouse. But, that doesn’t make me 100% innocent of things that someone might say about me. All in all, I know I’m a pretty good gal. But, ya, I’ve done some stupid shit. I actually have friends who are not friends anymore because of some choices I have made. And I can tell you if they followed the tenants of their own faith they’d probably talk to me one of these days. Shit happens you know. I know it sounds like I’m taking the subject lightly, but I am not. Because I am a person who thinks all the time, I rarely turn it off. Mostly, I can’t turn it off. And I think about those friends and ponder how they are. I say a prayer for them, and I say a prayer for me. Part of my reconciliation ritual I suppose. I try to balance that checkbook.
Ex-family members—as in ex-husband, ex-step-father, you know the types someone in the family can actually CHOOSE to divorce and never speak to again. I still think of them, and wonder how they are, and say a prayer for them and for me. I say it for them because of the misunderstanding we might have had, or because of violence that they showed me and because they themselves faced some sort of violence in their life, that they just could not overcome. I say a prayer for me because of all the violence I thought about showing them and for the violence that I did show them in my effort to live through the experiences. Yes, indeed, that was my choice, and not very good ones at that. It’s actually hard to think about these things…rarely do I NOT shed a tear for these ex-family members. Because it’s easy to see that they might want the understanding that I might want if I were in their shoes. And because I’d love to reach out and try again, but even I get too scared to even go down that road.
The hardest part I have dealing with are the family members I can’t divorce. I can choose not to talk to them. Or, they can choose to not talk to me. But, the lack of communication doesn’t stop them from being family members, nor does it solve the issues that caused the problems. I have to say a prayer for them, and say a prayer for me. I find it a terribly sad day when it’s easier to not talk then to talk and resolve the issues at hand. It makes a person weary to realize that these things can go on for YEARS. In all honesty, from my perspective, there are no issues so large that they cannot be overcome, so long as both parties are willing to eventually let it go. How important is it that we are right? Would you love that person any less if they were right? Can’t we just chalk it up to experience and move on? It has been heartbreaking to realize some folks are incapable of that. Let me go and look at that checkbook…again. A prayer for them, and a prayer for me.
Some of those family members actually taught me by example how to make choices, and I am thankful for some of what they choose to share with me. And I am also thankful for what little discernment that I have to NOT always follow in their footsteps. The example of learning from an elder’s mistakes: I’ve lived my life trying hard to move forward in a simple, earnest, and honest way. Sometimes, much easier said than done. Learning to move on despite being your own best enemy, doing the best you can with what you’ve got: Another form of reconciliation. Dear Peggy, how is your checkbook?
I was telling a friend today about my musical past. The one where an instructor actually thought I could sing, and encouraged it. I told the friend that music is so elemental to me that one song can bring tears to my eyes, It can also lift my spirit, teach me a lesson, or help me to find the Spirit—one song, one therapy, another form of reconciliation, every single day. Writing, and thinking are two more forms. Sharing my history without getting too complicated, or sharing too much—a form of balancing one’s checkbook, Also, a passing on of the wisdom that was tendered along the way.
As I get older, I find that I am actually thinking about a legacy. Even a year ago, that was not something that I thought about. How do I leave a legacy of peace, calm, warmth, lovingness—my choices has not always led to these ends. My biggest hope is that in the end the good will outweigh the bad. If the scales of justice are used in judging me, will I come out at least even? In my private moments, I have to be honest; it could be a really close call. There have been times when I was certainly no angel.
Primum non nocere – Do No Harm
A song about Jabez’s prayer comes to mind:
“Oh, God Bless Me.
Please enlarge my ministry.
Let your hand always be with me.
Keep me from evil
Let me not cause harm, oh please my prayer…”
(source: Hilary F. Marckx)
To Whom It May Concern, and to no one in particular: How balanced is your checkbook?