For those who have been following my blog you know that last year was my declared, “Year of Meryl.” It was a year of self-reflection and following my heart and attempting to choose happiness every day (and being mostly successful). It was a great year filled with reading, writing, and volunteering. I discovered new talents, made new friends, and learned a tremendous amount about myself and how I want to approach life going forward. Over my next four or five blog entries I want to share with you what I got out of my year starting with my most recent ‘aha’ moment.
Back in June I came across this quote from a Leonard Cohen song (which I’m sure comes from another quote somewhere else):
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
This quote had a profound impact on me. I am somewhat of a perfectionist and have extremely high expectations of myself. Nobody likes to make mistakes but if I feel like I’ve messed up I have a history of being especially hard on myself and while I am a master at forgiving others I have a hard time forgiving myself of even the smallest mistakes.
In thinking about the above quote I have decided to be more accepting of my flaws. It is okay to not be perfect. I can work towards being a better person every day while simultaneously giving myself permission to screw up and then forgiving myself when I do. I think there is a tendency for many people to want to just cover up those things that are considered to be “wrong” with us. They are the “cracks” in our psyche that bring us back to those dark places, bad memories, or low self-esteem moments- those voices in our heads that tell us we are not good enough or smart enough or attractive enough or successful enough that keep us from trying again. It is the fear of saying the wrong thing that keeps us from saying anything at all. There is an instinct to want to just plaster over those cracks, pretend they don’t exist, put on a neutral face and go about our day without actually experiencing anything lest it remind us of something we don’t like about ourselves. After all, if we don’t let anybody in then we don’t have to acknowledge how those people make us feel. If we don’t put ourselves out there than we can’t mess up or be rejected.
I don’t think this does us any good. We cannot have a full human experience of our own without opening ourselves up to the experiences of others. It limits our capacity for compassion to pretend that others are not suffering just because it makes us feel uncomfortable. Resenting the good fortune of others makes it much more difficult to be grateful for the blessings in our own lives and less likely to want to share those blessings with others.
I have truly come to believe that our greatest vulnerabilities can be our greatest source of strength. We can’t avoid having those cracks. There is no such thing as perfection. Those imperfections, when we acknowledge them and forgive them in ourselves are our greatest chance to be able to better love and forgive each other. They can be platforms from which to grow and learn and heal the world if we are willing to use them as a springboard for better understanding ourselves and others. If we are willing to acknowledge our cracks and let light in we have a chance to become light ourselves.