I wrote recently that I am tired of trying to be clever. What do I mean by that? I think I mean that I am tired of perfection and performing and proving. From a young age, we are conditioned to perform well. Our first steps are applauded. Our straight A report cards are rewarded.
Our value is proved by what what we know how to do well. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging hard work and commitment but whaat if there is more? What if the tumbles and falls were seen as equally as valid and important as the first walk across the room? What if the failing grade meant nothing less or nothing more than an opportunity to learn? What if our value lies simply in our being here, alive, now?
If not perfection, then what? If not performing, then what? If not proving, then what?
Can I release the compulsion to prove myself? Can I not only allow but embrace and actively pursue bewilderment, the not knowing, the perplexity of life? What would THAT look like?
When I see the word, I see it segmented … Be-Wilder-Ment. Ah, now that is something that feels true. It feels like I am returning to the spirit of myself, to instinctive living, to a no matter what way of life. It’s my declaring this is who I am in all of my complexities.
Bewilderment taps into an understanding that
for ALL that we know about the earth and our galaxy and the universe,
for all that we know about the way our bodies work and move,
for all that we know about being human
there is still so much that is mystifying.
What if that is OK? What if not knowing and being confused and befuddled and discombobulated is merely the tumbles and falls that might lead to the first steps? or the failures that give us opportunity to learn? I think that might be a beautiful way to live.
I don’t have to have it all figured out. ( neither do you )
Yesterday, my love and I went to the botanical gardens. Now, my love is a planner and it is one of my favorite things about him. If we have a trip planned, I know that all I have to do is trust him and follow along and I will have an amazing time and get to do all the things that I want to do. But sometimes, I like to get lost. Sometimes, I like to wander and find my way around without a map.
At the garden, we picked up a map and he looked at it for a bit and then said, “I’m going to put the map away. We can just wander around the trails” Yes! But about halfway through our wanderings, he had pulled the map back out and was on task again. At a particular fork in the road, I wanted to go right and he wanted to go left. Further on, I wanted to take a trail and he wanted to stay on the main road. I wanted to not worry about where we were going or how to get there. He now had the map planned out in his head. Miscommunication and frustration were on full display.
I began telling this story thinking that it was a lesson in how he was choosing cleverness and I was choosing bewilderment. But now I see, that the clash of our purposes was the bewilderment. I didn’t understand why he had picked the map back up and he didn’t understand why I was so frustrated with staying on the main path. The bewilderment that we had toward each other is the falling and getting back up again, it’s the opportunity to learn.
Thirty-five years with this man and I don’t ever want to have it all figured out. I don’t want the cleverness of our marriage. I want the complexity, the confusion, the discombobulation that shakes us up and keeps us growing. I want the bewilderment.
In my art making, in my writing, can I choose bewilderment? Can I choose not knowing and let that be a good thing? Can I choose not only perfection but the messy in betweens? Not only can I, I think I must. It’s the only way that makes sense to my heart.