Wednesday, September 21, 2011

41 Apologies on my 41st Birthday

It is a saying that I use all the time, “perception is reality”.  It holds true in most situations, what you perceive not only informs your reality but usually creates it.  Because perception can change, so can reality.  Hang in there it gets less metaphysical.  Perception based reality  is why you can hate someone you used to love and in some rare instances love someone you used to hate, all the while, the someone in question remains essentially the same.  It is why two people can see the same event and have very different stories and feelings about it.  It is why people can fight over an issue, each having diametrically opposed solutions, all the while wanting the same ends.   It is also why some believe I am a nice person, while others think I am horrible.
We all have a picture of ourselves in our minds.  I am Tara, loved by my husband, children and family.  I am kind, giving, hardworking and witty.  I also tend to be shy.  I live in a comfortable home in a wonderful neighborhood full of great neighbors.  I have 3 highly driven children whom I love dearly.  Blah blah blah. 
But then watch this.  She is Tara, I don’t like her much.  She is a self-centered, braggart who leaves her children with a nanny instead of raising them herself.  She also can be snotty.  She lives in NORFOLK, a dangerous place full of gangs.  Her kids are fussy, demanding and cry a lot.  Blah blah blah.
I know there is nothing I can do about what people think of me, and that is not really what intrigues me.  But rather, it was interesting to me that such diverse pictures of me – of all of us - are floating around out there.  No pictures are alike, no pictures are accurate, yet still we all make decisions based on those pictures.
If you are reading this blog, likely I am an ok person in your reality.  But there are a few people on this planet for whom I am not only not ok, but for whom I am a cautionary tale at best and a cuss word at worst. 
A harmless point in case (because there are worse ones believe you me):  on trip to the mud flats with campers from Camp Blue Ridge, I made a new friend, Kim.  I don’t know why, but I pushed her in the mud pit.  I think I was trying to be funny or maybe that is revisionist history, but her tears and what she said to me told me exactly the picture she had of me, “Friends don’t push each other into the mud.”  In her reality I am not a good friend, but in my reality I am a good friend.  I have lots of other pictures of myself that override that one.
Is that it?  Do I have a more complete picture of myself than others because I have all the pictures of myself?  Or am I revising the pictures all the time, telling myself that I did this or that for a good reason?  Whatever it is, all I want for my birthday is to take some of the bad pictures off the table.  This won’t do it, but it is all I know to do right now – if you have some magic eraser that takes away sins let me know but for now here are 41 apologies on my 41st birthday.
I am sorry that I:   broke my promise to you,  blindsided you,  told your secret,  missed your special occasion,  did not get you a gift,  was not careful with our friendship,  did not confide in you, did not sign up for the same camp as you,  pushed you in the mud pit,  teased you,  kept the truth from you,  did not invite you to the party,  left you holding the bag,  stuck my nose in where it did not belong,  wrote that mean e-mail, went to formal with your crush, slapped you, did not send a thank you note, ended things poorly, ignored you, hit you with a vehicle, broke up with you on your birthday, tricked you, did not call you back, laughed at you, behaved like an idiot at your wedding, lied to you, did not clean up my mess, did not make you a priority, hog tied you and put you out in the rain, poured milk on your head, asked for a new roommate, lied to join the club, made fun of you, broke your watch, disregarded you, did not stand up for you, made you cry, forgot about our lunch, embarrassed you, and unfriended you on facebook.