No One’s Perfect

July 2, 2017

3 min read


I’ve been too judgmental lately.

I've been really obnoxious lately; I acknowledge it. I've always been moved by the Jewish approach to time, by the importance of using our days well and fully, and the tragedy of the expression and action known as "killing time". I yell at my kids whenever they use the word "chill", urging them to erase the notion from their minds and vocabulary. And I've been known to exhort my classes to further efforts at learning and growth by reminding them that we'll rest when we're dead.

It's not that the ideas are wrong but I think it's possible I've been going overboard, especially when I heard that one woman who happens to enjoy "chilling" is not coming back to class! Maybe I need to rework my strategy.

Anyway, as I impart this idea, I have encouraged everyone to be prepared for those times when you may have to wait – for a friend's who is perpetually late (even when you try to trick her into coming 15 minutes earlier!), in line at the bank (especially when they're training that new teller!), or at the doctor's office (Why is it okay for them to make us wait but if we're late we lose our appointment?). And while it's fun to catch up on People magazine, it's possible we could aim just a little higher.

We could download books onto our Kindle app, or in a very retro action, carry an actual copy of a book with us. We could learn. We could think. We could plan something nice to do for our spouse or parents or children or friends. The point is not to feel trapped, at loose ends, bored and unproductive. There's so much we could do.

And yet, and yet, when I found myself recently stuck at the airport while my flight was delayed for 1 hour, then 2, then 3, then...8!!!!, I found myself completely unable to focus; it seemed completely impossible to do anything productive.

Maybe it was the constant noise – the overhead announcements that break your train of thought or the bustle of the crowds. Maybe it was the anxiety – would our plane leave that day or not? Would it leave in time for us to catch the last ferry to our destination? If not, would we be trapped somewhere without kosher food? Should we just cancel the trip and go home?

Perhaps it was just laziness. Or inertia. Or the stale air. Or my exhaustion.

If doesn't really matter. Because whatever the excuse, I found myself unable to live up to the standards I had set. That was sobering. Actually it was humiliating.

But all is not lost (I hope). I can now have more compassion for my students. I can stop acting superior and share the journey with them. I can be more empathic to their struggle as I recognize my own! It was a reminder not to judge, a recognition that we don't always behave as we'd like to think we would.

I still want to make the most of my time on this earth. I still want to encourage others to do the same. I still find the idea of "killing time" an anathema. I still want to ban the word "chill"...

But we all need to move a little more slowly in that direction. Me too. True growth is a long arduous process. Mine also...

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