[EDITORIAL NOTE: While I am away, several excellent elderbloggers agreed to fill in for me as guest bloggers.
Mick Brady, who blogs at Dancing in Tongues and The Blog Brothers, is here today with a story titled How to Make a Perfect Human Being. Please make him welcome with lots of comments and visit his blogs too.]
Fools rush in where wise men never go.
But wise men never fall in love,
So how are they to know?
- - Mercer & Bloom
We are the descendants of hundreds of thousands of bad attitudes.
- - Mick Brady
(Note: I post this with great trepidation and in the deepest humility; far, far from perfection.)
Naturally, the making of any human being begins with the parents. They are the ones who will either create an environment where love and nurturing occurs consistently over an entire lifetime or, as in most cases, becomes lost in the tangled, confused, inadequate, battered and ego-driven personalities of the parents.
The decisive factor in all this, of course, is whether the parents, as individuals, have done the difficult work of becoming themselves before they even marry, let alone have children.
To become themselves, fully themselves, they must first be open to learning the truth about themselves - the root causes of their fears, their rages, their blind spots and inadequacies, their cravings and obsessions, their lack of trust.
This can be very hard on the ego and only the brave and humble will voluntarily undergo it. There is a price to be paid for freedom and it appears to be much too expensive for most people. But for those who succeed, they soon learn what a bargain it is.
This work can be done through intensive therapy, sincere and honest religious practice, by facing life's painful lessons directly and openly with loved ones, but above all, a willingness to face and admit the truth at all times: if you lie, confess it; if you cheat, correct it; if you crave anything, including love, get to the bottom of it and eradicate it.
Unless you are the rare individual who has already been raised perfectly, there is no other way and if you don't do it before entering marriage, everything within you will soon become visible to your partner anyway, and it will explode in your face.
If two people who have already done this work then meet and fall in love, they begin the second process, learning to become a complete couple. All of the painful lessons learned in becoming a complete individual will have provided them with the tools they'll need to do this successfully: transparency, self-love, self-sacrifice, trust, and the ability to love and be loved.
Ideally, there should be a period of several years to accomplish this before having children. Remember, we're talking perfection here, and no one is perfect. These are no more than goals, approximations, ideals.
In its simplest terms, then, each parent should first come to know and love themselves; then they will be ready to begin the work (and joy) of learning to know and love one another. Once a certain level of stability and trust is achieved, they will then be able to provide the love and nurturing which will enable the child to grow into a complete and happy individual. Hey, that's not expecting too much, is it?
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Lest anyone think that I am setting the bar too high, keep in mind that this is written with a full understanding of the fact that perfection, in any sense of the word, is not achievable in this world.
I intentionally chose that word to express the limits of what is possible: to raise children who are intelligent, confident, ethical, healthy, open, loving and free - children who grow up to become well-grounded human beings capable of creative and critical thinking, who are unafraid of new ideas or change, who enjoy life and contribute to the lives of others.
This essay comes from the heart of a father, and now grandfather, looking back over the many mistakes and painful lessons experienced in his own lifetime, offered in the hope that it might spare some of those who follow the necessity of repeating those mistakes.
What is being discussed here is a limited and admittedly idealistic, human form of perfection that anyone can achieve if they desire to do the work. It is not easy. But if you want to play Chopin, you must practice, practice, practice. Otherwise, just go out and buy the CD.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place, Sharon Lippincott tells how young man she knew in high school taught her a life lesson she still puts to use today in a story titled, Profile of Courage.]