i believe in inherent goodness. the inherent goodness of each and every person. born in beauty, walking in beauty. i blame my sweet momma. she looked this way at every single person who crossed her path.
but then, there’s the rest. predisposed psychological genetics. environment. social prejudices. bigotry. elitism. lack of empathy. the inability to walk in another’s shoes. the lack of wanting to try to walk in another’s shoes. some kind of warped misinformed yet embraced caste system. jealousy. bitterness. the web of ‘ugly’ has many faces. and people twist. and that inherent goodness seems to go underground. we wonder if there is, indeed, any goodness left. we are confronted with this question over and over again it seems, especially these days.
we had a discussion about goodness recently. it became heated. the dog left the room and retreated to the bathroom. we were intense. too intense. arguing for the same point, we came from two different directions, two different backgrounds. but we were heading, actually, in the same direction.
each of us carries our gift of inherent goodness. we choose each and every day whether we access it or not. my momma’s adherence to the adage, “i shall pass through this world but once. any good, therefore, that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. let me not defer or neglect it for i shall not pass this way again.” often rings in my ears. we all make decisions each day; some steeped in good, some not so much.
as we approached the holidays and the end of the year, we were deeply diving into cleaning out. seems right at the end of the year. old boxes of random items that had accumulated in the years lived in this home, vestiges of life before, of life growing up, of goodnesses shown and received. we had so much fun as we cleaned; i’d show d pictures or mementos from places or people or the children, every one of them an opportunity for a story. some carried aha moments, some elicited sighs of where-does-the-time-go, some made me laugh or teary, some stopped me in my tracks.
i came across things from way-earlier-life, the time i had spent growing up on long island. my seagull collection, plastic seagulls suspended on wires attached to rocks or shells or pieces of cork, a 70s thing for sure. my horse collection, which was, in my mind, massive, but when i unpacked it was more like 15 horse statues and ribbons from showing in horse shows, drawings i had painstakingly drawn, books i pored over and over and studied at a much younger age. a doll collection with hand sewn or hand crocheted outfits made lovingly by my grandmother ‘mama dear’s’ hands. books and notebooks and old calendars. trinkets and rocks and feathers. cards and letters i saved for decades. artwork by the girl and the boy. little notes they wrote to me. an old electric typewriter and a case of 45rpm records we played the night we found them.
and then there are the reminders from a time i don’t talk about so much. a time when i became a #MeToo. it takes my breath away to think of that 19 year old girl. me – an idealistic, innocent, youngest-by-far child who looked at the world through poetic eyes and trusting-colored glasses. my heart breaks now for this young woman who found her way through a terrifying -and life-changing- time pretty much alone, seeking little help for an act that drove to her core and was more than difficult to voice in a late 1970s judicial system. because, you know, not everyone is good. not everyone holds their inherent goodness ahead of their selfish, controlling, violent behaviors. back then, counseling, and even prosecuting, was rare. i didn’t experience either one. the help of counseling nor the satisfaction of prosecuting this person who took away my belief and trust in goodness. for a time, fear coursed through me. my view of others became jaded and distrusting. i sought refuge in varying ways, but never really explained why to myself or others. i didn’t understand what caused this man to behave as he had, nor did i understand that it wasn’t mine to understand. what i do know, is that i grew.
and now, as our world opens their listening hearts to women and girls everywhere, i am grateful. grateful for their collective voices and the deserved help extended to them. grateful that even in giving individual voice, they are moving through the processing of it, the reason for being a #MeToo becoming smaller than #MeToo survival.
i was once told wise words from a friend when i was grieving my momma’s death. joan said, “the only way to get to the other side is through it.”
as i sort through all the pieces of life i have carried in boxes, in bins, in photographs, in my heart and soul, through all these years, i realize again that these words are so true. in so many situations, so many life arenas. the only way to get to the other side is through it. and then, you can find inherent goodness again.