Sunday, February 20, 2011

Better, wiser people

My mother did the best she could, I suppose. I need to do the best I can do. So I tell my children everything they want to know. I show them the world in words and pictures and music. While they're becoming better, wiser people, I am too. I wish I had learned these things before they were born, but I didn't have my teachers yet. I have tried to pass on to other moms the best of what works well for us, and to put little warning beacons near pitfalls.

Moving a Puddle, page 53
photo by Sandra Dodd


  1. I'm certain that my mom did the best that she could. Her childhood was godawful and mine was not, though I could wish it to have been better.
    I do think everyone is doing their best in any given moment -- our children, ourselves, our parents, the neighbors who I think are blowing it with their unconscious parenting. In that moment when I'm reactive and thoughtless, I simply can't do any better, that is the best I'm capable of, it feels to me, and usually I can see why I behaved so, when I think back on it. The fascinating question to me is what makes some people wake up, what gives some people the ability and drive to work at self-awareness, and others not, or at least not yet.
    I wish I had learned all that I am learning and more before becoming a parent (as if that were even possible. How would I have learned without living it?) but I suspect that is just more of my resistance to failing and making mistakes that can keep me from learning and doing something complex and challenging, and I try not to stay in that thinking too long.

  2. I don't think everyone is doing their best in any given moment.

  3. Are you saying that you think people *choose* to behave reactively and unskillfully? In my experience, when I am reactive and dysfunctional, I am not making a conscious choice to be that way.
    If you mean that people do not always behave rationally, compassionately and functionally, I certainly agree, but I would still say that this is the best they can manage in the moment, given their conditioning and whatever self-awareness skills they possess.

  4. If a person knows how to make conscious choices and then doesn't do so, she is not doing her best anymore.

    Once she knows more, if she doesn't do better, and could have... yes.

    I don't just think people sometimes slack off on even bothering to do their best, they tell me so all the time. Sometimes I fail to do as well as I could do, but I try to make thoughtful decisions.


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