Inward and Out:Personal, and Public

I found myself, today, judging someone I did not know. I was at the grocery store deli, standing next to a woman and her daughter, both significantly overweight (I am overweight as well) and seemingly vey unfit (I am, however, pretty fit). See how I’m judging already? And they were sampling every deli meat and cheese they ordered and I watched the pre-teen girl and she was holding cheese in one hand and funneling turkey meat into her mouth with the other, and her mom was handing her a sample slice of ham…

Yes, I’m scolding myself. Yes, I know even my depicting is judge-y. Yes, I know I am not perfect. Yes, I know they could be using the graciousness of deli sampling to bolster their food budget, or maybe they missed lunch, or maybe…does it matter? What do I know about their circumstances? What do I know about their genetic history, their health challenges, their choices in life, their day?

And why does any of that affect me?

About a week ago I posted something on Facebook about a climate change nightmare I had, and how I felt, in the dream, that my life’s work was a failure. And friends (awesome people) rushed to reassure me in the comments that I am doing my best. I responded “No I’m not”. Several friends posted concerned responses about my beating myself down. Some reassured me, also, that I am doing more than so many others are doing. That I can stop beating myself up because that comparison to someone else puts me ahead.

But I wasn’t beating myself up. I was being truthful. I know I can do more. I know my circumstances are limiting and not embracing of what I can achieve and I am trying to reach and grow within those confines. I hate the limits, but see enough potential to keep trying. I have, for this moment, made that decision, and I will always, always try to reach my potential.

And I wasn’t comparing myself to anyone else. I was comparing me to my best me.

That’s what I should have been doing at the deli. What was I doing; Reassuring myself because I am not as fat or unfit as some stranger in the grocery store?! That is lame and pathetic and, ultimately, unfair to me and to that person. Similarly, we should not be complacent about our work on anything, including climate change in all its renditions, because we are doing more than so-and-so is.

I need to look and trust inward in order to live and grow outward.

In both cases, I need to learn to look within and define (discover?) what my best self is, and strive for that. Judge me against me and my own inherent and self-actualized potential. Drive myself without resenting someone who has seemingly achieved more or better. Allow myself to be proud as well, without needing to put someone else down in order to find that self-pride.

This is absolutely not to say I shouldn’t care about my neighbor, or be curious and informed by the work of others, or feel inspired when I see excellence. Yet I need to look and trust inward in order to live and grow outward. I need to make it grounded in the personal in order to make a public difference, and this is going to take some focus and some work.

I best get started,


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