I love the poem, “This Be the Verse,” by Philip Larkin, which goes something like this:
“They fuck you up/ Your mum and dad./They may not mean to, but they do./They fill you with the faults they had/ And add some extra, just for you.”
I think about this frequently, and it’s come up again in the fallout from the Casey Antony trial. So many of us feel that we have all the answers for how to parent, whether you’re talking about a child or a pet. We feel that we would never make the same kinds of mistakes that other people would, and that our methods would inevitably produce a little genius, or at the very least a very happy dog or cat.
I don’t really feel like writing about Casey Anthony again, but I am interested in the idea that most of us feel that we know better than other people. Where does that come from, and how can we become more aware of the prejudice we may unconsciously carry about other people? How can we cultivate tolerance and compassion in a world that’s so freakin’ judgmental?
To reframe this, I began to think about my own parents. Imperfect, definitely. Did they do the best they could? Probably. I mean, I wasn’t there, at least as an adult person yet. Did they bring me into the world, regardless, and give me human life? Um, hell yeah.
Ding. Dark feelings about judgements lifted, and my heart opened in a new way. I didn’t care about what others were doing or thinking because I had my life, which is precious and fragile and all too brief.