(Not) The Smartest Person in the Room
It wasn’t so very long ago I made the awkward discovery I wasn’t the smartest person in the room. It’s something I can be, you know, if I frequent the right rooms. But there are only a few rooms where that works for me.
The rest of the time, I’m not it.
Turns out (luckily enough) that I don’t have to be.
I find myself in a lot of those other rooms lately, just one of the regular occupants, neither being nor needing to be particularly smart. I tend to keep my voice a little lower, have far less to say and what I do say might be muttered under my breath.
I’m liking that, more than one might expect. It relieves a lot of the pressure, and curiously enough minimizes the potential downside of really messing things up.
This week I started reading The Spirituality of Imperfection (Kurtz and Ketcham). Not far in, the authors remind of the nature of error as a simple fact of our days.
Errors, of course, are part of the game. They are part of our truth as human beings. To deny errors is to deny ourself, for to be human is to be imperfect, somehow error-prone. To be human is to ask unanswerable questions, but to persist in asking them, to be broken and ache for wholeness, to hurt and try to find a way to healing through the hurt. To be human is to embody a paradox…
We are not “everything” but neither are we “nothing.” Spirituality is discovered in the space between paradox’s extremes, for there we confront our helplessness and powerlessness, our woundedness. In seeking to understand our limitations, we seek not only an easing of our pain but an understanding of what it means to hurt and what it means to be healed. Spirituality begins with the acceptance that our fractured being, our imperfection, simply is: There is no one to “blame” for our errors–neither ourselves nor anyone nor anything else. Spirituality helps us first to see, and then to understand, and eventually to accept the imperfection that lies at the very core of our human be-ing. Spirituality accepts that “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”
Here’s to letting someone else be the smartest person in the room. I’ll be in the back row, getting to know my limitations a little better. Maybe you’d like to sit in the next seat over?
Photo: Letter on Edith Wharton’s desk, taken at The Mount, Lenox, Mass.