I write to think. I write to explore ideas. I write to help myself learn. Sometimes what I learn is unpleasant. Regretful epiphanies are no less important than those that inspire confidence. In the end they both provide opportunities for growth.
Rereading my post this morning, I’m fairly embarrassed at how self-absorbed it is. I was attempting to be funny, and give some insight into what’s going on for me at home right now, in all its monotony, but in the end it not only fell flat, but was deeply uncaring of the pain and suffering being felt and endured across the globe. That is not something I’m proud of. So much so that I’ve had to actively resist the urge to delete the post.
Yet pretending I did not write that post does me little favours. It doesn’t help me change, or grow. It tries to sweep it under the carpet, as though the mistake never took place. I don’t think that’s the least bit helpful in the end.
Instead, I decided to follow it up with another post, looking at what I was thinking this morning from a different perspective. That’s one of the really powerful opportunities in maintaining a blog like this. It takes the ephemeral – the impermanent – and preserves it. As the Jen from Dark Crystal so eloquently said in the 1982 film, writing is “words that stay.”
So what can I take from my regretful epiphany? First, the need to think beyond myself, and to recognise the opportunities that I have that others don’t. As much as the concept of ‘social privilege‘ may trigger outrage amongst old, white men, there is absolutely truth in it. As a medium-old, white man, I choose to see the reality in this, and own that to the best of my ability.
Moreover, ‘choosing to see the truth in it’ is not something that is done once and then disregarded, as if you can tick it off a to-do list. It’s something that must be chosen, and re-chosen day after day. To do otherwise is to risk forgetting the lessons in social privilege, and the return to a sense of entitlement that can sometimes arise. I’d also argue that entitlement breeds discontent, whereas recognising your privilege can inspire gratitude.
Living in a space of gratitude is not only better for one’s mental health, it can also help them recognise the suffering in others, and to hold compassion in their hearts for those that endure it.
In the end, I regret the underlying selfishness in my last post, but I am ultimately grateful for the opportunity to recognise my shortsightedness. I’m embarrassed that I displayed this error in judgement publicly, but doing so has ultimately kept me accountable, and that’s a good thing.