may i be wrong… and Thank you for pain

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 9 seconds

Two things are staying with me this week, one from a poem, and one from a clip of a child singing.

The first one, “may i be wrong” comes from an e.e.cummings poem called “may my heart always be open to little” (the title is funny because of course the rest of the poem is not about being open to little, but being open to a lot – of little things 🙂

In any case, the part that’s staying with me is the “may i be wrong”. I love this, because I don’t think it’s about wanting to be wrong per se, but about seeking to remain willing to recognize when we’re wrong, and admit to it, and work on it, and also realizing that when we try to do anything new and deeply important, we must be willing to potentially do it wrong, to fail, before we get it right. And so, yes, “may i be wrong” – and may I be willing to listen to critique when I’m wrong in order to grow and become better.

My co-facilitators and I have just finished off the Intentionally Equitable Hospitality series, and it was an exhilarating experience – went way beyond my expectations. At the beginning of it, we invited participants to critique what we did, how our actions and behavior may or may not align with our stated values and aspirations, and so participants did! And we took their feedack on board and discussed it with the group. And one of the pieces of feedback we got several times was that participants learned from this process – our openness to critique and how we listened and took it on board and unpacked it and brought it back to the group. Can we always teach with a “may i be wrong” attitude? And remain confident and humble, all at once?

Which then reminded me of this song a friend sent me last night. It starts “I don’t wanna act too high and mighty, because tomorrow I may fall down on my face” and it continues to thank the Lord for sunshine, rain, joy and pain and “It’s a beautiful day” (the song – which I’ve heard before – here is the full song, it sounds familiar). So the beginning of it is about humility, right, not acting high and mighty. Then it turns into thanking for sunshine and rain (opposites, but equally beautiful and useful, right?) and then thank you for joy and pain. Wait, what? Thank you for pain?

And I’m thinking of this now and realizing… oh my God… that we can feel pain means we’re alive, right? And that we have the capacity to feel. And in all honesty, for life on earth, it’s really difficult to imagine perpetual joy and happiness. When we love our children, this love is maybe 90% pain and 10% joy, but it’s worth it. When we love someone and they’re going through something difficult, we feel pain, and it’s horrible pain, but the more people you love, the more pain you will feel for them. This past year has been so full of secondary pain for me – so many close friends have lost parents and have close people to them who are very sick… and I thank God it’s not me, but the pain I feel along with people I love? This is good, because I have so many people I love that I can feel pain with, if that makes sense? And if feeling someone’s pain can help them in any way (rather than be passive pain that helps no one), then I’ll take that pain and be grateful for it.

So… may i be wrong… and thank you for pain!

Photo of a cactus by Earl Wilcox on Unsplash

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