My dad sent me a youtube link recently with a simple message, which I cribbed for the title of this blog entry: Right hand, left hand

I wasn’t sure what to think of the email. Usually, we’re more formal in our correspondence. Salutations, closings, inquiries into health and work…

I clicked on the link. It’s a short video, subtitled in a language I don’t know. The sound is difficult to hear, as if the microphones were not picking up the words of Thich Nat Hahn properly. Even though I was listening on headphones, I found myself leaning forward.

A summary of the sentiment that he expressed was that if the right hand harms the left hand, the left hand does not seek vengeance. If the right hand soothes the left hand, the right hand does not seek payment. They are the same body.

With this simple expression bouncing around in my head, I’ve come again to a conclusion that it seems I must learn again and again. Being my best does not mean conforming to external standards of beauty. Being my best does not mean berating or criticizing myself for supposed or real failings. I have to face the fact that if another person treated me the way I treated myself, I would avoid them like the plague.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

I’ve had a tendency to get lost in the eternal loop of being sorry. Sorry for doing this, sorry for being that, sorry for saying sorry so damn much.

I tentatively reach out into the world. Sometimes I feel smacked down, and sometimes nothing seems to happen. I have to remember that I am the only one who can make me feel anything. I am the one putting myself down before I have a chance to speak. I am the one pre-judging my thoughts to be unworthy of expression. I am the one – wait, no, the editors are the ones rejecting my stories – but I’m the one who’s not writing more of them, trying again and failing better.

What does it matter to the world what I choose to call myself, positive or negative? What does it matter to the nameless mass of “they” whether I conform to societal roles that I may or may not be imagining?

In reading about oppression in my Women Writers class this semester, I am struck again and again by the theme of infighting among the oppressed. For example, abolitionists didn’t wish to include feminist issues; white feminists didn’t want to include women of color. The energies of the oppressed are trained on others who are themselves oppressed and not on bettering life for everyone.

If my heart and mind are divided against themselves, then I will have no energy for anything else. No energy to reach my goals, if every time I make progress, all I can see are the things I perceive as being “wrong” or “bad” or simply “not good enough.”

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