Owning Your Life

Sometimes it seems to me like my world is filled with victims.  So very few people take personal responsibility for anything.  In politics our leaders blame the opposition, blame the committee in charge, blame the voters, blame the disenfranchised.  In relationships she blames him, he blames their kids, their kids blame the teachers, the teachers blame the parents.  And on and on it goes. In what passes for therapy these days people blame their parents, their clergy, their neuroses, their condition, their medication, their counselor.

That’s the great thing about the blame game, there’s always someone or something at fault.  And as long as I can assign fault, then there’s not too much I need to do.  Maybe a little anger work once in a while.  Maybe some practice of forgiveness.

Of course the problem with blame is that, as far as personal growth is concerned, fault doesn’t really matter.  Our growth is not so much from our experiences as it is from our thoughts and beliefs arising from those experiences.  My father was, among many things, a violent angry drunk who hit me, humiliated me, shamed me, disappointed me, and never really knew how to father me.  There, now I have a great excuse to fail, great reasons to feel sorry for myself, great opportunities to blame all sorts of things in my life on him.

Or I could decide that fault, blame and excuses miss the point.  Every moment in my life is an opportunity for growth.  Every thought, every experience can be the fertilizer out of which my enlightenment might bloom.  Sadly, fertilizer often looks and smells like sh*t.

I remember a story my Dad used to tell about a bird that decides that all this flying south in Autumn and north in Spring is just too much work.  Ignoring all advice, this bird decides not to fly south for the winter.  The first real frost comes and the bird wakes up one October morning frozen solid.  Wiggling around trying to get his wings to flap he falls out of his tree.  Thinking things could not possibly get worse, a passing cow picks the exact spot on the ground where the bird lays, and drops a pile of hot, steaming manure on him.  Poor bird.  Frozen.  In a pile of poop.

As the manure warms the bird, he begins to thaw.  As feeling returns to his extremities he realizes he just might survive if he can get someone to pull him out of this dung heap.  So he begins to complain by singing as loud as he can.  A cat hears him, cheerfully pulls him out, carries him to a bit of a puddle, helps him rinse the cow patties off…and eats him.

The morals of this story:  Not everyone who dumps on you is your enemy.  Not everyone who pulls you out of sh*t is your friend.  And, perhaps, even if you are stuck in a pile of sh*t, if you are warm and alive, you might not want to complain too loudly about it?

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