Musings and Meandering Thoughts

I love walking the path surrounding the park near my house. Trees older than me stand like sentinels along the perimeter while kids hoot and holler on the swings. Dog walkers, baby strollers, couples holding hands, and girlfriends chatting with to-go cups in hand make for a veritable parade.


This microcosm of my community fairly invites pictures. It takes little thought to lift my camera to capture the sweetness of it all. The sun is bright, the park is peaceful, and the carpet of green seems endless.

And that’s when I see the problem.


Instead of a smooth sea of green, ragged tufts of freshly cut grass polka-dot the entire field. And yet, the contrast of the yard waste marring an otherwise pristine surface sparks something inside me. It makes me want to sit up and listen, figure out what it means. I take the picture.


Wanting a wider view of the field to capture the polka-dot effect, I continue my way up the hill. But from that perspective, the tufts have all but disappeared.


I consider how a glimpse into someone else’s life or art almost always appears perfect, and can so easily trigger an avalanche of self-doubt and recrimination.


From the perspective outside looking in, their life or work is flawless. We don’t see the blood, sweat, and tears they invested. We don’t know the camera angles, the timing, or how the angle of the sun modifies the end result. We see a snapshot, not the epically long journey to get there, or the effort to frame it so perfectly.


That snapshot is what we want for ourselves, what we want to show the world. We don’t welcome witnesses as we fumble through our mess. Mess does not make for a pretty picture.


Mess opens us up to criticism.

Fear of judgment keeps us quiet. Docile. Small.



We live on constant display, especially in today’s world. If we are creators, we are even more vulnerable. We expose our innermost thoughts and imaginings when we share our offerings. For all of us who, creator or not, dare to share a dream, a wish, or a plan? We expose our vulnerable underbellies to critique.

It’s enough to make you want to hide.


Everybody has an opinion. And online? The dregs of society fling theirs far and wide without a single care for the human being receiving it on the other end.


So, what? Should we care what they think? If we met them on the street, they would not garner an ounce of our respect. They have power over us because they echo the recriminating voice living inside each of us that screams, ‘not good enough’.

Want to take away their power? Deal with that voice inside your head. Remind yourself that everybody has mess. Give yourself permission to make more.


We resist stirring things up for fear of the discontent it’s sure to bring. When we reach for what we need or strive to do better, it sends out a ripple effect to the people around us.


We disrupt the status quo, and people do not like change, especially if it affects their comfortable routine.


Change may require new boundaries. Boundaries get messy real fast, especially when dealing with people who have benefited from your lack thereof.


Excited about a new job or career path? Expect to be subjected to all manner of opinions, most from people you do not in the slightest admire.


Having a child? Not having a child? Downsizing? Upsizing? It does not matter what you do, someone won’t like it, they won’t hesitate to let you know, and they’ll take great delight in watching you struggle.


Taking up space can start a riot. How dare you take up space! Who are you to speak up, speak out, speak at all?

That pristine sea of green, that picture we strive for, requires work. And that work is messy.


If we want to see what we can do, we have to give up the illusion of perfection. We have to tune out the naysayers. Even the cheerleaders we must take with a grain of humility because growth is not static. What is now perfect will always devolve toward chaos.


If we can’t get comfortable with our own mess, we will lose out.

Joy, the kind elicited by change, will elude us.

Dreams, the ones that motivate us to grow, will fade.

Authenticity, which fuels us with belonging and purpose, will cease to exist.

Authenticity requires growth, growth requires change, and change?

Change requires courage.

It’s going to be messy.

People are going to see it. And no doubt they will offer their opinions.

Cut it anyway.

And take the picture.