You know what it’s like: You meet someone new, or find an organization that just nails it, or you read something by a person who not only gets it but also expresses it perfectly, and you go, “EXACTLY.” (If you’re like me, you’re reading and nodding and possibly saying this word aloud repeatedly.)
I have plenty of acquaintances and friends I like very much. I also have a small but powerful gang–all very different, all flung over many states–who I could go to war with. They have loved me through my worst, and celebrated with me at my best. The rest of the time, they just are: there’s no drama in this posse. We’re all too old, and life is challenging enough, for pot-stirring. Many of them have never met. Come to think of it, there are a couple whom I’ve never met in person, either. I got to know them either on Facebook through mutual friends, or I read their work (“EXACTLY!”) and over time we struck up a correspondence.
The point is, these people get allll of my exactlies. Their brains and senses of humor (paramount), their values and work ethics and abilities to question themselves and their own motives. Their HUMILITY. The older I get, the less time I have for people who don’t practice turning a cool, appraising eye to their own behavior. I need to surround myself with people who can look at a rough situation or an unpleasant exchange of words and ask themselves, “Was that me? Did I cause that? What was I trying to accomplish there?”
This is hard work. I try my best to practice this, and by no means get it perfectly, or even every time. The most important thing is that we TRY. I can no longer be a person who crashes her way through life, certain that I’m right all the time. It is exhausting and destructive and Sisyphean. It makes me tired. It makes my buddies tired, too. Many of them figured this out way before I did; in fact, one or two seem to have been born knowing this.
Having humility does not equal being a wuss. Not even close. It just means that we hold ourselves to the same reasonable standards we hold those around us.
Here are just a few things and people that get allll of my exactlies, in no particular order:
Ricky Gervais and his animal welfare activism–all of my exactlies.
When I read something written by a person who clearly just gets it–all of my exactlies.
When I meet a new person who shares my interests, but also has respect for the opinions and interests I don’t share with them–all of my exactlies.
Fellow clumsy people–all of my exactlies.
Yoga pants–ALL OF MY EXACTLIES.
People who can laugh at themselves and others without being cruel… you get the idea.
Everybody knows by now that it’s a good, healthy thing to count our blessings, not just around the holidays. During these short days of winter when the sun can seem like a blurry memory, I’m counting my exactlies.