I’ve never been able to understand those who claim to have no regrets in life. I mean, come on, like they’ve never done or said something in haste, something they instantly, or upon later reflection, regretted? There’s nothing that they wish they could take back or do over? Well, maybe they just have a better sense of perspective than I have. A better understanding of human, or at least, their own limitations.
I, on the other hand, have lots of regrets. If I had a dollar for every stupid thing I’ve done… ‘Course, better would be to have been more thoughtful in the first place.
In this world of increasingly hard, straight lines, computer-like precision and utter predictability, it can be easy to lose patience with human foible. To forget that we have grown up in, and are adapted to, a world of soft, curvy and often unpredictable lines where absolute precision is rare and would, in fact, be a liability, even hazardous if it weren’t. For example, say you were a deer and were accustomed to drinking from the watering hole at the exact same time every day. It wouldn’t be long before your routine was picked up by, say, a lion, with obvious results.
Nature is wiggly. Everything wiggles. The outlines of the hills. The shapes of the trees. The way the wind brushes the grass. The clouds. Tracts of streams. It all wiggles. And for some reason or other, we find wiggly things very difficult to keep track of.
And, you know, we say to people, keep still so that I can see you. Keep still for the camera. And we say, “let’s get things straightened out”, “let’s get it ironed out”, “let’s get it all squared away.”
And somehow we think we understand things when we have translated into terms of straight lines and squares. Maybe that’s why they call rather rigid people squares. But it doesn’t fit nature….
Human beings are just as wiggly as nature. And our brains are an incredible mess of wiggles, and that’s the part of ourselves that we understand least at all.
Though I feel a deep spiritual connection with nature I am not religious. I once was though, and remember reading the apostle Paul’s description of his struggles with his own personal nature in Romans 7:15-20. In verse 15 he said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
I’ve had a saying for years. Something I tell myself when I’m feeling especially exasperated or befuddeled by human behavior. It reminds me to stay grounded and not be too hard on my own species, because I myself am a wonderful example of the innate shortcomings of humanity. Here’s my little nugget of wizdom:
Let people be human.
Now this is not to excuse those among us who have no desire to better themselves and who revel/wallow in their natural shortcomings, who, we might say, endeavor to perfect their imperfections. Always on the lookout for self-advantage, these people see others as “marks” or targets to be taken advantage of, lied to and cheated. They know who they are, even if we can’t always tell.
I guess what I’m saying is that even though we are bound by our biology, curvaceous and imperfect (in its way) as it is, we should still strive to do what we can to make the world a better place. And if we are honest with ourselves and think about it there is a lot we can do. Is this an argument for unbalanced zealotry that forces its values on others? Of course not. Everyone has the natural right to believe what they want. Still, as a society we should hold high, unwavering and universal standards for things like education, human rights and the protection of the environment.
What’s the point of all this pompous palaverous pontification 😉 ? Well here we are at the dawn of 2016. A time for reflection on the past and New Year’s resolutions. Even though it often feels like a Sisyphean struggle, let’s not give up the fight. There’s too much at stake.
Finally, to bring it all back home, the point of my novel, Opalescence, and this blog, as I say in the About page, “Opalescence is my attempt to help people remember [our rapidly fading natural world], and with that memory perhaps change will come.” I hope I have accomplished that. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful New Year!