I’m feeling embarrassed because I’ve made a series of silly mistakes. I run retreats internationally in which people come together to experience a spiritual awakening to oneness and “big love,” so I regularly send out emails to tell people about new events. In my last email I managed to get the details wrong, so I sent out an apology and the correction. Then I realized I’d got other details wrong as well, so I had to send out another email to apologize.
Making mistakes is a part of life … at least it is a consistent part of my life! Yet I am always shocked when I see how easily I don’t pay enough attention to what I am doing. And this has got me thinking about how I feel when I make mistakes.
Getting the dates wrong on an email is a relatively minor mistake, but I still feel annoyed with myself. I prefer it when I am pleased myself, of course. Yet I also feel there is something precious in the humility that arises when I see my innate fallibility … with both the big and little things in my life.
Humbly embracing my flawed humanity has been a theme of my life in recent years, and is a major element in my new book that is coming out next year. For a long time my spiritual journey was about waking up to the deep self and the oneness of life, and this remains an ongoing adventure. But now I find myself also focusing on coming to terms with the limitations of “Tim” that show no signs of miraculously disappearing!
As I get older I am struck by how “Tim” still stumbles and falls. Humility and embarrassment seem like old friends. And there is a vulnerability and authenticity that arises from the recognition of my human fallibility that I am learning to appreciate. Connecting with each other and with life from the deep self is a wonderful experience. Yet embracing each other in our vulnerable, fragile, tender humanity is equally important.
It seems to me that I am profoundly paradoxical. On the one hand so big and on the other so small. Within me are unfathomable depths, yet “Tim” is also necessarily limited and imperfect. On my spiritual journey I once believed that I could one day perfect “Tim” into some sort of enlightened being who was always at his best. Now it feels to me that the journey is about embracing all that I am.
This means both awakening to the deep self and humbly accepting my human limitations. It is when I am able to do both that I am truly authentic. And then something beautiful and tender happens. There is this unconditionally love of myself just as I am … a love of others just as they are … a love of life just as it is … a deep love of being.
I shared these ideas with my emailing list when I apologized for my mistakes. And here’s the funny thing. I got more lovely replies to that email than to any other email I’ve sent out. So what I am learning is this: People respond when we’re real about ourselves. When we’re willing to be authentic it allows others to be authentic too. And that feels good.