A while back, Scott and the kids and I were sitting around the table eating dinner. I don’t remember which one of the kids asked it, but the question was, “If you could have any super power, what would it be?”
Scott said the ability to fly. Luke said to be invisible. Noah wanted to be really fast. Grace said she wanted to be able to talk to animals. When it was my turn, I said, I’d like to be able to have ultimate understanding of things. The kids just looked at me blankly. Scott laughed at me and said jokingly, “Super lame, Mom!” But it was true! That would be what I’d wish for, to be able to look at a person or a situation, without trying to affect my will on them and to just be able to understand.
There will always be people who misunderstand us because our scope is limited by the lens of our ego. It doesn’t make anyone “bad.” It just means that we can’t yet see past our own experience of the world. As human beings, we are prone to judge and criticize, to tell others what we would do if we were them. But we can’t possibly know what we’d do without actually being them and living with their understanding of the world. Not surprisingly, this theme keeps popping into my days lately.
Scott and I were in New York City over the weekend. It was my first time being there and it was a gorgeous time to go. Spring in Central Park is surreal and I fell in love with it. We decided not to do a tour of the park and instead, wandered in the rain, hiking some of the nature trails and I loved how organic everything felt. There weren’t overcooked landscapes; no sort of contrived feeling to any of the life we observed. A bunch of wild violets were just growing haphazardly under bushes and thorny shrubs, massive boulders hugged by the roots of proud trees. It was all naturally beautiful just the way it grew. No one had tried to force their ideal of beauty in any obvious ways.
Really, the whole city of New York was like this. Before I’d gone, I was intimidated by the idea of the busiest city in our country. I worried I’d get trampled, but what I found so
intrinsically hopeful about New Yorkers is that they are so comfortable being who they are. While one of the greatest tragedies of mankind happened in the heart of the city on September 11, 2001, it hasn’t diminished the light of it. The spirit of freedom and love pulses through it. There isn’t any feeling of fear in people expressing themselves. We listened to a woman playing a cello in a tunnel under a bridge, letting her silky smooth notes fill the air. We saw artists at the MET parked in chairs under sculptures, sketching or painting the way they interpreted them. No one asked them to move or told them they were in the way. No one gave them suggestions on how they would make their art better. In the streets, people stopped to hug and kiss and dance. Passersby would just go around them without a word. And maybe because there are so many people concentrated in New York, one could expect it would create dissonance or chaos, but what I found was complimentary harmony.
I was thinking about how we all could do a better job at this. If we just let each other be, not demanding or forcing our ideas of perfection, letting each other grow a little wild and free, how lovely the world could be. I wonder if our idea of education or religion would change. Maybe our learning institutions would be less structured and as a result people would thrive being allowed to grow in unexpected directions.
I know what I’m suggesting could border on anarchy if we weren’t careful, but I’m not suggesting lawlessness. Just tolerance and acceptance of each other the way that God made us. John Lennon’s song “Imagine” kept coming to mind.
I do believe humanity is evolving. I’ve seen it in my own life. I am beginning to see the world in ways I never thought I would. For as hopeless as I feel at times about the way of the world, if I shift my perspective and see things through a lens of love, I can stop judging myself and others. I can forgive and I can heal. I find that I finally am beginning to understand.