I bought a new CD recently of music of India. As a rule, I am always open to new music, but generally I will not seek out anything beyond my realm of experience without some sort of push. I happened to hear part of the CD one day when I was out and about, and liked what I heard enough to go ahead and buy it when I found it. I have been listening to it in the car, and the more I listen, the more I realize I really like this CD. Don’t worry, I am going to stop here on the gushing about the CD. This is not a commercial and I am not endorsing that you need to go buy a copy for yourself. Just wanted to give you the context.
The first track on the CD is a song about the strength of women and how, historically, women of the eastern countries have been repressed and oppressed:
Behind every great man, there is a great woman
But as Jasmine never blossoms in the shade,
So woman’s potential can be left to wither away,
Unfulfilled, when standing in the shadow of man
Still, women of the east have stood strong
and fought hard throughout time.
The determined intelligent strength of a woman,
emanating from the inside out.
This got me thinking about how I have downplayed my own potential in the past, and how my choices have affected my life. Sort of the “Knowing what I know now, if I had it to do all over again, what would I do differently” dilemma. I think everyone has, at one time or another, asked this question of themselves. It is very easy to ask the question. It is far more difficult to answer it honestly, no holds barred. That requires that we take a long, hard look at ourselves and the mistakes we have made in the past. Were the lessons that we learned from those mistakes valuable enough to justify the pain we caused ourselves? Were they valuable enough to justify the pain we caused others? Could we have learned those lessons in any other way? One that would have been less excruciating? And if we did, would the lessons have meant as much to us? Would they have made as much of an impression?
I know that, if it weren’t for the experience I had during my first marriage, I probably would not be married to the man I am married to now. The “bad” experiences we each had in our first marriages prepared us and taught us what we should look for in a potential mate. It also taught us what to avoid. I think I am ultimately happier now, even when “bad” things happen at home, because of the difficulties I had in my first marriage. Would I have preferred to be able to learn those lessons without the “benefit” of my first marriage? Of course I would have. Would the lesson have meant as much to me? Probably not.
On the flip side of all of this, I am watching my older children, on the threshold of adulthood, preparing themselves to make some of the same mistakes I made when I was about their age. On the one hand, I can see the mistakes looming ahead of them, and I know the potential horror awaiting if the wrong choice is made, and I want to spare them any pain I possibly can. I want to tell them they are about to make terrible mistakes, and I want them to actually listen to what I have to say about it and hear the dangers ahead. On the other hand, I know that the chances of them listening are slim and none, and Slim has moved to Marrakesh. I know that, without falling down, they will never learn how to get back up on their own, and I know that without severe pain, they will never be able to truly appreciate the great joys that life can offer them. So, I am going to do the only thing the situation will allow me to do. I am going to talk to them until I am blue in the face. Even when they are frustrated and disgusted and tired of listening, I am going to keep talking. I am going to tell them all the mistakes I made and the consequences of those choices. I am going to pray that even a small fraction of what I say will actually sink in and have some effect. I am going to buy stock in tissues and wait for the day they come home, awakened, disillusioned, and defeated, and I am going to tell them that “This, too, shall pass.” And knowing all this, I just wish, in a very selfish way, that I didn’t love them as much as I do, because seeing their hearts breaking will kill mine, and no matter how much they hurt, I will hurt 1,000% more, because I knew it was coming. And, until then, I am going to pray with every ounce of my being that, this time, I will be wrong.