I don’t approve of about 96% of the pictures in which I’m photographed. In the age of digital photos, I, like many of my friends, are notorious for asking the camera (wo)man to retake a photo because it didn’t meet our expectations. I often stare at pictures of myself, unhappy about the freeze framed Gemmie, finding hundreds of unflattering qualities. “It looks like I have a double chin.” “My arms look HUGE.” “My hair looks like a lion’s mane.” “My stomach looks like it has rolls.” Whenever I lament over a picture I don’t like because of some flaw to my mother, she usually responds, “Well… that’s how you look.” Wow, Ma! You basically called me ugly, much like the truth. And damn does it hurt! But, as she often is, Moms is right! The camera doesn’t purposely sabotage the photo, it simply displays the image it’s given. Sure, some angles may be more flattering than others, but not even the best of angles can’t hide certain inevitable realities. It shows what it sees.
Learning to accept what IS has been the hardest lesson (or, rather, set of lessons) I’ve ever had to experience in my life. I want to alter things, fix the broken, right the wrongs, conceal the ugly, and ignore the inevitable. I can be relentlessly unwilling to accept things for what they are when I don’t deem them as good enough. If they don’t meet my standards, if they aren’t worthy of my seal of approval, a change must come. I want to change what’s out of my control—knowing I can only control myself and my actions. It’s like an obsessive compulsive drive to make myself perfect along with everything in my presence… as impossible as the task may be. As if controlling everything/one will make me feel better about myself. The control freak-perfectionist in me wants to be in charge, wants to chart the course of life, rewrite history. Because, for whatever reason, I can’t imagine life going on, or the world continuing to spin on its axis, if I leave well enough alone.
As I get older, as I mature, as I become more spiritually aware, I realize that I’m not perfect, the people around me aren’t perfect, and wishing for a perfect world is a waste of a wish. Instead of putting all of my energy into trying to mold everything (and everyone) to my idea of what it (they) should be, I have to be willing to accept my faults, mistakes, weaknesses, blemishes, imperfections—and those of others. All I can do is work on ME and becoming a better person, regardless of the situation. I am beginning to be more comfortable with the idea to, as the Niebuhr quote says, “accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Because, at the end of the day, que sera sera. It’s foolish of me to try and control the uncontrollable; that’s God’s work. I accept the challenge to worry about myself and work on the things for which I, solely, am responsible. So, thankfully, with each new dawn comes a new day. And as long as there is air in my lungs, I can always start afresh.