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Awakening Your Inner Hero

The Guy in the Hat

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Some things are perfect and perfect basically means as good as it could possibly be. Perfection. How many things in our lives meet this highest standard?

I recently asked my wife, Wendy, "Are trees perfect?"

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Pretty quickly she answered, "Yes, trees are perfect." She didn't know where I was going with this and to tell you the truth, neither did I.

Then I asked, "Are tigers perfect?"

"Yes." She looked at me kinda funny.

"How about elephants?"

"Yes, elephants are perfect, too,"

Then my last question, "How about human beings? Are we perfect?"

It was quiet. No answer. "I've got to think about that one for a while but I'm too tired now," she answered.

A short time later I gave our daughter, Jessie, the same quiz. Again, without much pondering she said "Yes" to trees, tigers and elephants. They are perfect. But when it came to human beings, she said, "No, we are not perfect."

"Then what's the difference, between us and all the others? I asked.

After a little more pondering she said, "Human beings make choices between right and wrong, good and bad, so we can mess up and do the wrong thing and we all do. We are not perfect."

Hmmm.

What do you think, my dear reader? Are humans perfect?

My answer to the question is also "No," we're not perfect, but I also hold out some room for a "Yes." We are and we aren't perfect! How could that be, Burt? Doesn't it have to be one or the other?

Please be patient, I'm thinking.

Let me tell you a story while I'm thinking:

A few weeks ago I was at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend. I've had an autoimmune condition for over 10 years so every eight weeks I go in for a 30-minute infusion. Usually I sit by myself and look at the birds and clouds out their huge window.

But not that day. A nurse brought this big fellow to the seat next to mine. He had on a T-shirt that said World's Best Grandpa and also wore a National Rifle Association hat. I was wearing a yarmulke on my head as part of my Judaic tradition. I said to him, "Nice T-shirt."

There was a short pause, and he returned the compliment with "Nice hat." We both smiled. I took a breath, looked up and said back to him, "Nice hat." He looked at me and said, "Not everyone likes my hat." And that is true.

I told him, "I don't agree with everything the NRA says but you and I can still get along. People should strive to do that."

That's how we met. Two very different old fellas needing medical care seated right next to one another. Needles in our arms and magical fluid flowing into our veins. He told me his name is John, and his treatment is for cancer, diagnosed just a few weeks ago. I didn't know what to say, but I mustered up a tender, "I'm sorry, man."

"Thank you," he answered.

I believe there are no coincidences. There is a reason for everything. Not everyone agrees with me, but that's the point of this whole story. We imperfect humans find it very easy to disagree with one another. And actually, that is the way it should be, even needs to be. Huh? Yes! We all see the world through our different eyes. Disagreeing is as normal as breathing and blinking. Unfortunately, our disagreements, whatever the issue, can too easily turn into conflict and sometimes explode into hatred and ugly confrontations—all painfully imperfect.

I have never been an NRA fan. That is me. John, my new infusion partner, obviously has a different point of view. We never mentioned our differences even once. We had more important things to talk about.

We spoke heart to heart rather than opinion to opinion. What is the reason we were placed next to each other that day? I felt for sure it was to find some way to communicate. We were already connected by our vulnerable situations.

In a few minutes we moved from "T-shirts and hats" to stories about times in John's life when he came close to dying. Two strangers and now we're opening up, sharing and listening. Neither of us will ever forget that sweet meeting.

Back to humans, being both perfect and imperfect. I have some ideas now.

I'll speak for myself but possibly it will be for all of us. I am imperfect. The list of my imperfections isn't short, and one of my daily ones is being too judgmental. It comes easily. I grew up with it, I got excellent at it and the media floods us with it all day long.

How can we also be perfect? Many people all over the world, including myself, are consciously trying hard to become less judgmental. We see how it never brings joy into our lives. Maybe a brief high, but never joy.

Striving to be a better human being puts us on the endless path to perfection. That is perfection in this lifetime.

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