My rational self reminds me the only person whose opinion of me I should ever consider is my own. I should never give any one person so much power over me, be it a parent, a boss, a client, a prospective client, a friend and certainly not a stranger. My barometer of success should come from my own sense of whether I did my best and learned from my mistakes.
Sounds all well and good. Right?
But then, I’m not in my rational mind a good percentage of the time.
I live my life from the heart, for better or worse, and while most often this doesn’t necessarily lead me astray, it opens me to pain far more often than if I simply followed my rational mind.
Add to that the ever frustrating fact that I am a consummate perfectionist, forever expecting more from myself than even I can deliver. I possess the remarkable talent of pulling off what I once thought was impossible, only to walk away disappointed because I didn’t catch the bad guy AND win the girl, so to speak.
And in there lies the failure: putting stock in the “girl” giving a crap in the first place. Something is clearly wrong with me when I’m focused more on what a potential auxiliary player thinks than simply basking in the success of a job well done.
It’s times like these I’m reminded of a poem I read when I was a teen, Alastair Reid’s “Curiosity.” So captured was I by the prose I saved it and refer to it from time to time. It so closely foreshadowed my life, despite the fact that I often consider myself more a dog than a cat.
I was recently accused of being a romantic. Quite ironically, it was by the very person who I am sure quite literally couldn’t care less should I suddenly suffer a horrific end via rabid alligator upon my next stroll in the park. Though I must admit, as much as I despise giving credit at this point, the observation is quite accurate.
I am a romantic because rather than listen to the rational mind, which would keep me safe at all times, I follow my heart. And with it comes the ample opportunity “to die and die again and again, each time with no less pain,” as Reid puts it.
Failing is only a chance to learn. And what I’ve to learn is this: only my assessment, my feelings about my work, my understanding of how great my accomplishment, are all that need matter. Another’s failure to recognize all the wonder that is me, all my hard work, all my fantastic skill, all my value, all I can accomplish when I set my heart to it, all I’ve done, all I hold dear, everything that I am, is purely that person’s loss.
I will go on, working hard not to take others’ lack of acceptance of me the least bit personally. Easier said that done. But certainly made easier when one accepts the other person is a narcissistic, self-centered, conceited hairy armpit of a tree sloth.
That aside, these words from Alastair Reid I know for sure:
“And what cats have to tell
on each return from hell
is this: that dying is what the living do,
that dying is what the loving do,
and that dead dogs are those who do not know
that dying is what, to live, each has to do.”