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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Integrity

I often ask myself just what is it I’m contributing to the world, given my primarily house-bound situation.  Apart from the writing I do here, it feels rather like nothing.  But then I think about what my niece said to me (see "Greater Truth" post below) and I’m reminded about the one thing I have that no one; not the doctors or the disorder can take from me: integrity.  Personal integrity, that elusive oft times difficult thing we either strive for or ignore, make excuses for when we miss it by an inch or a mile, dismiss it when it’s convenient to do so and most often, forget about entirely.  It’s easy to do so; after all, we tell ourselves, how important is it that I missed that appointment (without calling) I was suppose to be at, broke that promise I made to a friend, came late to that dinner party my family had.  How important is it, really?
Here’s what I think.  It’s important beyond measure.  Beyond anything we previously thought, beyond all else because it’s tied to everything else. It’s tied to love, to work, to our children, our business acquaintances and our friends.  It’s tied to everything and everyone and every time we miss it, be it by that inch or that mile, we lose a bit of ourselves.  And eventually, there is no one home.  We walk around as empty shells, some of us thinking our money or our feeling of integrity's unimportance is protecting us from that very thing that is killing us.  Not keeping our word.
We think perhaps, that if we go to our place of worship, or our private prayers of asking for forgiveness (if in fact, we are aware of our indiscretions) it is enough, enough to keep us in G-d’s good graces, enough to get us through another day without thinking about what our actions or inactions did to the person we disappointed (at the least), disregarded or disgraced (at the most).  But it’s not.  Not by a longshot.
And when you are in the kind of situation I am in, you develop a keen sense of knowing; an awareness that integrity is often the only thing we have going for us.  And in a sense, it really is the only and therefore, the most important thing we can take from this life on Earth.
Truly, every single time we fall short without an apology or an amend, we break hearts, sometimes bank accounts, sometimes marriages, friendships, relationships with family and countless other things that make life worth living.  And sadly, we are often too unaware of it even happening.  Hence, the empty shell syndrome.
I am far, far from perfect in this regard.  But I have, if I listen, friends and family who gently set me back on track when I fall short.  And if you don’t listen, they stop telling.  Talking to an empty shell becomes tiresome.  We all have tried to have conversations with those people, so we all know.  But it’s far, far easier to spot it in someone else than in ourselves, just like everything else.
I hope I am never become that empty shell.  If there is one thing I can take away from my time here, it’s knowing that I did my best to keep my word, my best to be aware when I mess up and above all, my best to acknowledge and correct the mistakes I make along the way.
Integrity.  We must live with it in mind, even if our world leaders don’t.  They are not the examples we want to follow.


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