There’s really only one assumption we can make about one another: that is, within all of us, there’s a little war going on between who we know ourselves to be, and who we long to be. The permutations of that war are endless, as is, it seems, its length. But truces must be called.
Many years ago, driving home from work after a long day, the kind of day that left me lingering over a list of regrets and disappointments—which for all that, is kind of like pushing slivers into the palm of your hand—a song came over the speakers of my little red car. I recall I was listening to CKUA and they were playing Maria Dunn and it was dusk and the street lights were beginning to blinker on. And it was all a bit of mercy.
We give our ourselves away, and pray to be taken in. We open up, and hope for a yes in a world of no’s. We put our best selves forward—but they are always a bit frayed, ragged—and we watch for acceptance. And we do all this with the hope of warm arms, and kindness. And when it comes, we see—for kindness always brings revelation—that we may have been wrong about who we know ourselves to be, for the judiciary in our heads is almost always far too exacting. And too, we may find that who we long to be, is not exactly who we should be.
And we make adjustments, but we never give up longing, and so, I suppose, we never entirely give up self-reproach. For we all walk the way of imperfection. The truth of it is, as far as I can tell, is that our imperfection is a grace. The way of imperfection, which I’m thinking is a kind of shabby-love-with-potential, calls us toward an image of ourselves yet to be created.
It’s an unbidden, unwilled image, which means it’s a true image. And it calls us to reciprocal kindness, even to acts of unpremeditated self-sacrifice. And when we glimpse it, it’s like a little miracle—a street light coming on when all around dusk is falling.