Monday, March 21, 2011

remember, the first pancake always sticks to the pan

Integrity is not a conditional word. 
It does not blow in the wind or change with the weather.
It is your inner image of yourself, 
and if you look in there and see a man who won't cheat,
then you know he never will. 
Integrity is not a search for the rewards of integrity.
Maybe all you ever get for it is the largest kick in the ass the world can provide.
It is not supposed to be a productive asset.
John D. Macdonald

[In the film, "War Games"]...a computer stages a massive Soviet first strike with hundreds of missiles, submarines, and bombers. Believing the attack to be genuine, NORAD prepares to retaliate. The hero convinces military officials to cancel the second strike and ride out the non-existent attack. The computer starts an attempt to launch a second strike, however, using a brute force attack to obtain the launch code for the U.S. nuclear missiles.  All attempts to log in and cancel the countdown fail. All weapons will launch if the computer is disabled. So they direct the computer to play tic-tac-toe against itself. This results in a long string of draws, forcing the computer to learn the concept of futility. Once the computer obtains the missile code, it cycles through all the nuclear war scenarios it has devised before launching.  All result in stalemates. The computer concludes that nuclear warfare is "a strange game", having discovered the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction ("WINNER: NONE"). And concludes that "the only winning move is not to play." The computer then offers to play "a nice game of chess", and relinquishes control of NORAD and the missiles.
Wiki synopsis

"A fight is going on inside me," said an old man to his son. "It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf is evil. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other wolf is good. he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you."
The son thought about it for a minute and then asked, "Which wolf will win?"
The old man replied simply, "The one you feed."

Wendy Mass

Live simply that others may simply live.
—Mother Teresa

Let me win.  But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.
—Special Olympics oath

Winners are simply experienced losers.
—Your mother

In a world that celebrates winners, a not-so-subtle message reverberates: if I lose, then I'm a loser. I beg to differ.

I have been simmering over this since a friend recounted a recent conversation that was peppered with adversarial overtones.  He closed with, "In relationship, I believe 'win-win' is the better choice." This from an athlete. One who likes to win.

Taught that perfectionism was the goal rather than a character defect, I recall the shock - and relief - that ran throughout my body and soul when this discovery registered with me. The old mantra - "Don't do anything unless you can do it perfectly" - was quickly replaced with "Fun is good." New and pleasurable options appeared when execution counted less than the attempt. Self-criticism was replaced with satisfaction. Yay! I learned to swim at fifty-two. Badly. But, hey, I learned to swim! And now I've learned to snorkel! Another yippee! This dive into my dotage has even trumped my fear of swimsuits. I've noticed how friendly my fellow swimmers are. They don't seem to care that my technique has no discernible label. They encourage me.

On the other end of the spectrum are my gifts. Skills or traits that were not attained through effort but came with the package. I hid them under a bushel because someone else might do...or have...or be...better. Or, because I knew these attributes were unearned, I was uncomfortable in the spotlight.  Another friend put this into perspective. A talented musician, he passed along advice he'd been given.  "When you receive a complement or applause, picture yourself receiving a rose. And then, in your soul, lift that rose to God in gratitude for the gift." Inevitably, another is, or will be, better. This is life, not a competition. Sometimes, the only winning hand is not to play the game. But to P-L-A-Y... joyfully, with gusto. And integrity.

Don't give me a passing grade because I got into the pool. My pride doesn't need stroking. My strokes need practice. Show me where I went wrong and teach me how to  swim better. I need to see my limitations, experience some failure. My ego is healthy enough. My humility isn't. Sometimes the fight is within me. Help me feed the right wolf.

For those who meet defeat over and over again: help them find their victories...and some self-respect along the way. If I'm too busy to stop for them, my life is too complicated. Mother Teresa was right: live's not all about me and what's mine.  Relationship is soul-ful, soul-filling. It's a win/win proposition. If I fall down and you pick me If you fall down and I pick you

So here's why I think it's important to remember that the first pancake always sticks. First tries are rarely perfect. Anything approaching fantastic on the initial attempt is pure luck. But each attempt will feed me. I will be nourished and grow. On the other hand, I could starve waiting on five-stars. I know. I've cooked a lot of pancakes.

Maturity lies in accepting reality, not in demanding perfection.
I am not perfect.
My life is not perfect.
No day is perfect.

Mature people resist extremes, 
have realistic self-images and reasonable goals, 
and have learned to accept responsibility for their own actions. 
The only expectations they have are for themselves. 
The only inventories they take are their own.

Maturity is the growing awareness that you are neither all powerful nor helpless. 
It could be said to be the knowledge of what is, what might be, and what cannot be. 
It is not a destination; it is a road. 
It is the moment when you wake up after some grief or staggering blow and think, “I’m going to live, after all.” 
It is the moment when you find that something you have long believed is not so; 
and, parting with old convictions, you find that you are still you; 
the moment you discover that someone else can do your job as well as you, 
but you go on doing it anyway; 
the moment you do the thing you have always been afraid of; 
the moment you realize that you are forever alone, but so is everyone else; 
and the hundred moments when you see yourself as you are. 
It is letting life happen in its own good order and making the most of what there is. 
It is “Letting go and letting God.”


Sarah said...

"It is not supposed to be a productive asset."

So true. Love this.

Celeste said...