The morning mirror reflects back my own worst enemy. It is me. I chew on this reality. It tastes like stale unsweetened breakfast cereal. It may be good for me but it doesn’t taste like it is. My experience is not sweet. I chew on sawdust.
Over the years, I’ve had an external enemy or two. This always surprises me. I do not consider myself a very good opponent. I am a lover not a fighter.
Of course, under the right (or wrong circumstances) I can be a real stinker. Over the years I’ve come to believe that the depth of difficulty I can create is inversely proportional to how pleasant I can be. In other words, my dark side mirrors my bright side in depth and intensity.
It is this dark side that cloaks the enemy within and gets more of my attention. I remind myself of it constantly. It haunts my waking hours and casts a pall on any accomplishments or successes I achieve during any given day. It flogs my self-esteem with a whip of incomplete tasks and less than perfect behavior. It doesn’t let me forget how fallible I am.
Carrying the burden of the reality of being my own worst enemy, I am weighed down by a question.
“So why does the dark side get most of my attention?”
I keep the question close to me under my umbrella as I walk between classrooms. When under a cold portico, while wondering why anyone would build a modular Southern California-style school building in the Pacific Northwest, I understand some thing about human nature that has eluded me.
We have a natural tendency to focus on the negative because once upon a time it was necessary for our survival. Early humans depended on the ability to perceive any potential danger in order to do a good job of avoiding it. We seem hardwired to look for the negative because doing that well helped keep us alive.
This realization under the wet and breezy walk way put a stop to the self-pity cycle I was riding. Now that I understand why it is so easy to be negative, I can focus on learning how to nurture my “lightness of being.” This will not be an easy task. Acknowledging the goodness within feels odd. It explores a largely unexplored territory. Yet, I find the task exciting. I’ve done a great job being my own worst enemy and have mastered the skill. I’m ready to move on.
The limited view of myself that was largely built on my flaws and fueled by all things negative is a poor representation of who I really am. What it did do well was provide an excuse for not being something more. How easy it was to get stuck in the land of excuses. It requires so little effort to maintain. It feels familiar and in this familiarity it feels oddly safe.
How do I grow and push beyond my self-established boundaries when wrapped in the cocoon of excuses? Excuses form a barrier I didn’t have to break through. No external enemy could do as good a job as I have.
I have grown weary of this enemy mine. I forget what started this battle. I tire of the conflict. We sit down at the table of peace. I serve baked scones and tea. We share a jar of strawberry jam. Outside the world wages on. We smile at each other and take a long sip of tea. Friends at last.