When I was younger, my life was simple. I had a two dimensional view of the world. There was wrong and there was right. There was good and there was bad. It was easy. Swearing was bad. Alcohol was bad. Praying was good. Obeying your parents was good.
Bad people did bad things and good people did good things.
Where did I fit into all of this? Well, I didn’t drink alcohol. I did well in school. For the most part, I listened to my parents and I didn’t swear.
I was definitely “good”.
But as I got older, my views changed. I discovered that a glass of Merlot had its merits. As for swearing, well just refer to my post on potty-mouth mommy and it will be obvious where I stand in terms of that particular vice. I have made many choices that some might consider questionable and continue to do so despite the knowledge that perhaps, I may be veering away from my understanding of the “good” side.
My understanding of right and wrong has transformed into black, white and many shades of grey.
The woman I was in my 20’s with her rigid view of people and life would balk at the choices I make today.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a strong moral compass. I teach my children to be kind, loving, patient and tolerant and do my best to model this behavior. I am honest and loyal, sometimes to a fault. But I have made, and will continue to make, mistakes. I have always been my toughest critic, but now I want to give myself a break for not always living up to the standards I uphold for myself and for those around me. I want to be less judgmental, and more accepting of the flaws that we all have.
And as I continue to grow older, my views on right and wrong continue to evolve. In practice, I meet patients with amazing stories. These people are faced with adversities and challenges, and they do their best to deal with whatever life throws at them, in the best way they can. Do I always agree with them? No. Do I always think they have made the right choice? Absolutely not.
I hear stories from family and friends and where the old me would have been quick to judge, quick to decide which side of right or wrong that person belonged to, the new me now seeks to understand the motivation behind the actions, and to understand the intention of the doer. By shifting my focus this way, I have come to appreciate the complexities of people and life in a way I never really did before.
And of course, I look at my own life. The lines between good and bad, right and wrong have blurred so much, that I would be a hypocrite to judge another. As I embarked on this journey to become the better person I want to be this year, I have been acutely aware of my shortcomings, and the shortcomings of the people around me. And this is what I have learned.
Good people do bad things for good reasons. Good people do bad things for bad reasons. But good people are still good people.
We all struggle. We all falter. But I have learned in the past several years, that we are all just trying to do our best with the curveballs, challenges and disappointments life throws at us.
It’s not about right and wrong, good or bad. It’s about having a heart, having a conscious and making peace with the factors that drive us to make our decisions without needing to label them or ourselves.
So as I continue this journey, I hope to continue to be more understanding of the people around me, and I hope that in turn, they will do the same for me.