it is waking that understands sleep and not sleep that understands waking

C.S. Lewis

I was taken aback when I read this in C.S. Lewis’ book, Perelandra, the other night. I re-read the sentence, again and again for a few minutes and thought about it.

Really, it is true that when we are in a state of dreaming or sleeping or even ignorance, we have no idea. When we make mistakes, we don’t know that’s what we’re actually doing before doing it. Otherwise, we wouldn’t do it.

And so it would be foolish to look back to a time when we were ignorant and made a mistake, harbouring guilt for something we were unaware of. I do that. I want so very much to be discerning and humble and enthusiastic and generous that sometimes I forget that I am human. That I am allowed to make mistakes; it’s part of my nature.

It’s also very easy to get frustrated with someone that is being ignorant or making a mistake in our perspective. Who do we think we are – judging what someone else should be doing? We have no idea what they’re thinking and feeling and what they went through before performing that action. We can think that we do know, but really we are always only guessing. It’s not our responsibility to take inventory of what ‘good’ or ‘bad’ things people are doing.

Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s rook, when your own doorstep is unclean.

Confucius

And so here lies another lesson. Cut yourself (yes you, and me, and everyone) some slack. Be understanding and empathetic. This is what I am focusing on.

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