Boy, turning Forty came with more shit than I could have imagined - some good and some bad and some, well... I guess some newly-acquired knowledge. (I guess that can fall under either category).
Everything has changed for me and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I'm now questioning the virtues, the ideas, and everything else I've always believed in.
We all have a certain sense of pride, dignity, and integrity; some of us have small egos, while others have inexplicably ginormous ones; some people are self-righteous, while some are humble; some are conceited, while others are completely self-deprecating. There's well-deserved forgiveness and equally, well-deserved blame. And then there's the truth. The truth is a concept that has different meanings, or so it seems, to everyone.
I've come to a conclusion that all of those things mentioned above are full of great meaning and also full of shit at the same time. Yes, while all of those virtues and traits are fine and dandy, there has to be some sort of balance between them, as well.
I'm always able to swallow my pride if and when I have to. Sure, it tastes bad going down but, hell, when I have to do it, the results have always been worth it. Shit, if pride had calories, I'd weigh 9,000 pounds. What amazes me, though, is how other people allow their pride to get in the way of things and how they make their decisions. Sure, it's a wonderful thing to have pride in yourself and in your character, but when it prevents you from seeing situations from another person's perspective because, God forbid your ego takes a punch in the gut, is it really that important? When it comes to losing out on something significant in your life, is it not worth taking that small hit? I've always believed that nobody is that fucking great to take that hit.
But there's another, darker side to that, as well. A small ding in your pride is one thing. But when you let go of it almost completely, that's a problem. Like I said, balance is key. I've been to that side, where I've tossed all my self-respect to the ground and had it dragged through the mud for something I believed so strongly in, something so worth it, but in the end, unfortunately, all that did for me was make me feel foolish. But in another way, it was a good lesson in learning that whole 'balance' thing I mentioned. Wear your pride like you wear your winter clothing: in layers. Sometimes, you have to shed a sweater when it gets too warm, but at least you still have something still on so you don't get too cold. Does that make any kind of ridiculous sense? (Oh, my three readers, I've been up since 3:50 am. Please try to figure that one out on your own.)
Another thing I've come to realize with age is that I hate how people skew the truth in order to soothe themselves, to make themselves look better/smarter/superior to others, or just because the real truth isn't something they can accept for whatever reason. Damn, I've told the truth even when it shed me in a bad light but to me, it was the right thing to do. Sure the truth is always easier to say when it makes us look good, but I think it shows more character to admit it even when it doesn't. People dance around it, they twist and turn it, they ignore it, they exaggerate it.... To look the truth right in the eye though? (Mostly) unheard of.
Which brings me to forgiveness. I've had so many experiences in my life with so many people where this was an issue. I've forgiven people in my past for things I probably shouldn't have forgiven them for. But who says I'm so great or high and mighty that I shouldn't give others another chance (or two, or ten, or endless ones, which has been the case many-a-time). Why are too many people so intent, though, on being unforgiving? Is it their stupid dignity that gets in the way? Are they in some way partially to blame in some way, shape or form and can't accept that? Do they feel that forgiveness is a sign of weakness? I don't know about anyone else, but to me, being able to forgive is a sign or strength.
I hate questioning all I've ever believed in, all the virtues and ideas I've had about people and life, but every day, something causes me to do so. Certainly, I am far from perfect and at one time or another have had the scales tip too greatly on the pride/truth/integrity/whatever side. But I am human. I recognize these things about myself and I always want to find a balance; I strive for it.
We all have to look at ourselves in the mirror every day and remind ourselves that the person looking back at us is the one person we have to make decisions for and live with forever. When I feel like I'm losing my own sense of self or have done something I am not too proud of, I never revert my eyes from that reflection - I face it and try to do the best that I can to change or make up for anything I need to. I don't want my ability to forgive or to be honest or any of those other things to become unrecognizable to me. But sometimes they do and unfortunately, it's because I've allowed people and bad experiences to do that to me. I don't want that, and I really don't want to question myself and who I am because at the end of the day, warts and all, I still want and like to be Ol' Forty.