Trusting the Good

My mother called yesterday afternoon asked me to bring her back the book that she loaned me a few weeks ago (the book that she said she didn’t want back). I said, “Mom, I loaned that book to someone. You said that you didn’t want it back.” She replied, “Oh, I never said that! Never mind if you gave it away, but I didn’t say to, and I don’t want to discuss it. ”

I used to argue with her…found it infuriating to be “dismissed”, especially when she was wrong! I can’t remember ever hearing my mother say, “Really? Did I really say that?” No. It has been; I am right and you (whoever disagrees with her) are wrong. Period. My mother grew up in a rough household…in rough times. She was not protected and nurtured. She became suspicious of the world and grew a little shell around her heart…I guess to protect her. This “shell of being right kept her safe, separate and lonely.

Over the past few years, she has really tried to open up, but it is a huge amount of work for her at 83. She has been guarded and critical, so to trust; to be OK with being wrong, to see another person’s side of a story, is frightening. She does not want to be made a fool of. There is a great Rumi quote that says something like, “Trade your knowledge for bewilderment.” What it means to me is, you don’t have to know everything…the world can surprise you with goodness, if you don’t expect the bad. Don’t think you have it all figured out because if you do, you’ve got something way too small compared to what life could really offer. Be wrong. Be surprised that being wrong can feel good. Be blown away by goodness!

A question that I like to ask myself is, “What have you been wrong about recently that turned out really well?” It helps me to not be so afraid of being wrong myself.


I think we too often make choices based on the safety of cynicism, and what we’re lead to is a life not fully lived. Cynicism is fear, and it’s worse than fear – it’s active disengagement.  Ken Burns

20 thoughts on “Trusting the Good”

  1. ……frozen in time?
    worse than fear?
    How can that be?
    blogless blogging
    captive to
    Break out
    Be ALIVE
    Jump in
    Play that fiddle!

  2. The “shell” of being right is a brittle one, Mary – and a lonely place to be. It hurts to admit that I am wrong – which is something that I work at – (admittedly) rather frequently! I am fortunate that my mother (with all her foibles) has shown me that it is okay to wrong, take responsibility – and to apologize.
    I am sure that it is difficult for your mother to open up at this stage in her life, but bless her for her effort. I have been watching my mother go through a huge change at 78, and even though it is maddening for me at times, I admire her for her courage.
    Thanks for putting this on the front page for us today! ox

  3. Marjorie, love your poem! I’ve been wrong often, part of this human’s condition! Mary, I think it’s wonderful that your Mom is trying at 83 to open herself up to you. A challenge for both of you I would imagine, because of old expectations of how things have always been. I think we are happier when we’re wrong once in awhile, it’s a terrible burden to have to be right about everything. Love the quotes you used today, thank you Mary.

  4. I think that being right has something to do with being perfect. The thought process is then, “If I am perfect, people will love me.” Similar to wanting a perfect body. “If I have a perfect body, then people will love me.” I don’t know, I could be wrong abou this… Hahahahahaha!

  5. I’m having an insight about the connection between my tendency to be overly cautious and not very spontaneous.
    I was in that “dismissed” place a lot when I was growing up. I remember not trusting my own experience even when I absolutely knew I was right. To this day I fact check everything that I put in writing at least 3 times and dislike speaking up in groups. Hmmm…

  6. What a tremendous burden we lay down when we don’t have to be right all the time!

  7. Heard in a talk at the Blue Lotus Temple last Saturday morning:

    “You can be happy or you can be right!”

    Loved it!

  8. I had to actually look the word up in the dictionary: “the belief that the motives of the world are purely from selfishness. A disbelief in altruisim or lack of self interest” . This one goes deep for me. Or for anyone I suppose who has struggled to serve love in their life. I have pondered why people are always: searching for the “ulterior motive, taking advantage of our seemingly good nature, perceiving us as suckers (like perhaps we dont realize what were doing). I have veered from the path, asking myself whats the point of serving love and setting an example? Nobody believes you anyway! Knowing full well as the answer is whispered inside me, “for its own sake”.This word describes a philosophy, a world view that now I have words for I can be aware of and understand what it is when it is. I am strengthened having a word for this. You gave me lots to chew on Mary. I am once again, grateful for the light you shine. Take heart your time is well spent!


  9. The previous comment makes no sense if you dont understand that the word I looked up is cynicism. Had to add this Mary, to make sure I got it “right” LOL


  10. One Christmas Eve, I was struggling to get out of my office when a call came in from a difficult client who was always calling with one “emergency” or another. I dreaded taking the call, sure that he was about to ruin the holidays for me. I braced myself and picked up the phone, only to hear this: “We just wanted to tell you how much we love you, and to wish you a Merry Christmas.”

    Taught me a big lesson about . . . well, about a lot of things, but mostly about myself and my skewed perceptions.

  11. Mary, this was something I really needed to hear. And Tish, I think you’re right on the mark. I think that many of us who grow up believeing we’re not good enough, or not like other people (or other people’s daughters), try too hard to be perfect. And that makes us want to always be right. After 57 years, I finally realized that I don’t want to be like other people, I just want to be myself. And that’s good enough. But I could be wrong about that 🙂

  12. I have a friend whose mother brought her up to be Miss Perfection in everything! Her dress, her grooming, her hair, her house, her children, her husband, her car, her yard…everything had to look like a magazine layout! She is a stressed , unhappy person! We need to learn to just be ourselves and our lives are not going to be a magazine layout!

    Most people I have been around that have to be right all the time don’t have many friends and are unhappy with themselves and everyone else! I hope your Mother can change.,
    No one is right all the time. We are make mistakes and are not “perfect”.

  13. How I look forward to this beautiful time of the early morning, reading Mary’s post and then the comments. There is such intimate and trusted sharing going on here, and the last few weeks, just seems to me that though from afar, our days are being so enriched by each other. Barbara mentioned disliking to speak up in a group, but it does feel safe here, doesn’t it Barbara? Right before reading today’s post, I read on Writer’s Almanac that on this day in 1942, Anne Frank began her diary. This girl left behind such an inspiring spirit; in her words she is still with us today. She wrote:

    “How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment, we can start now, start slowly changing the world! How lovely that everyone, great and small, can make their contribution toward introducing justice straightaway. … And you can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness!”

    And, “It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”

    A beautiful day to all. Thank you all you good hearted ladies!

    1. What incredibly moving words you posted from Anne Frank…I cannot read them without becoming overwhelmed by the depth of them….such wisdom and beauty and strength.

  14. and so many thank yous to all the good hearted folks..

    ..kindness…ah the root of our being..the part we always need to nurture…..I so love your spirit Mary..your intent to house a safe house on the internet..a place where each shares so beautifully. Each of us have traveled a different road, but it appears that each of us has a common bond of positive, good hearted purpose..of making a difference while here on this majestic earth.

    Different ways of childhood
    good, bad or some other judgmental word..
    each caring a load we choose to keep
    until we choose to leave it …


    always our choice

    the roadside.

    and an amazingly beautifully hearted day to each…m

  15. My sister has a poem on her fridge entitled “Anyway”.
    The theme is that
    people will tear down what you work hard to build up
    … work hard anyway
    If you do good people will question your motives
    … do good anyway
    Because it was never between you and other people
    … it is between you and God, anyway.

  16. My mother has always thought that the worst thing she could be is “vulnerable”. To be strong and to survive, which she has for 97 years, she believed that she could never let anyone see that she had made a mistake or that she had the wrong answer. What I now see is that there is a soft core of self doubt that she fiercely protects, so I’ve finally stopped fighting her and accepted that I don’t need to win – there’s nothing to be gained from it. What’s so wonderful about what Mary and all of you are saying is that each person brings something unique and insightful to this conversation, and it swirls around with me all day, opening my mind and my heart to new ideas and other points of view. Thank you, everyone!

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