As of this year, I am in the 3rd year of my 40th decade.
First of all (just for the record) I can’t understand why anyone dreads turning 40.
The 40’s are awesome!!
When I turned 40, I dyed my hair purple. At 41, I added bright blue. In my 42nd year, I launched a blog about my pet parrot. This year, at age 43, I added a mini-tortoise named Malti to our little family.
In addition to these many wonders, I am also finding that, in my 40’s, I no mostly longer desire to be perceived in any particular light by others.
In my teens, 20’s, 30’s….heck, basically all the years up til now….I was pretty concerned about being perceived as a “good” person.
As such, I took any leadership opportunities SO seriously that letting someone else down, disappointing another person, or crossing horns (or swords) left me waiting for the handcuffs to arrive and the cell door to swing shut.
In fact, I looked forward to it – I felt that was exactly what I deserved for being less than perfect.
Today I know there is no perfect. Thank goodness.
Which brings me to pedestals and people.
A quick browser search on “pedestal images” brings up some pretty uncomfortable-looking seating.
Pedestals are high. Narrow. Mostly unpadded.
There is nowhere to rest your feet, and the sharp corners can cut off circulation in the knee area.
Plus there’s no room for visitors, or even pets.
Actually, pedestals aren’t meant for sitting. They are designed to display one perfect, pristine, and (frankly) somewhat small or even disembodied item in such a fashion as to let others know they are expected to admire it from a distance – and ONLY from a distance.
You can come close to wipe off the dust. That’s about it.
Plus, if you’ve ever viewed an object on a pedestal (in a home, museum, or elsewhere) you may notice it gets kind of boring after a few minutes.
Perfect things – like perfect people – aren’t really all that interesting – to me or to most folks.
Nor do I personally aspire to emulate either.
In fact, I remember the days when I aspired – desired – to be perfect. Those were the two decades or so when I struggled with an eating disorder. During that time period, I was very intense….and (I assume) really boring.
I say this because, in looking back, I can recall that pretty much all I talked about was my food, my weight, my goals, my appearance, myself…..me. Me me me me me.
In this, it almost goes without saying I didn’t have many friends.
The few “friends” I did manage to attract simply provided counterpoint to my favorite theme as they talked about them them them them Them them them.
We were together but also utterly alone….and quite lonely.
We were just so afraid of not being perfect, of looking awkward while clambering down from those spindly pedestals – or worse, falling off! – that even our so-called friendship was for appearance’s sake.
Interestingly, every so often today I still encounter my own desire to put someone else on a pedestal, or someone else’s desire to install me on a pedestal.
For the former, I remind myself of how unfair it is to do that to the other person and also to myself. Why rob us both of all the interesting bits of life and each other?
For the latter, my first instinct is to flee. But since I’m not very fast, instead I usually opt for attempting to have patience with that other person’s process, remembering my own rather painful waking up years when I realized pedestals aren’t designed for people….and people designed aren’t for pedestals.
This is a lesson worth learning, and it takes the time it takes.
Today’s Takeaway: Think back to a time when you have attempted to put someone you admire up on a pedestal, or a time when someone who admires you has tried the same (or both). What was the experience like? Did you enjoy it? Did it work for you? Would you try it again? Why or why not?