May 14th, 2010: Good Excuses or Just a Cover up for Fears?

I was considering a theme for this blog and since I am revealing personal foibles with the hope that any reader who can identify with the same symptoms of being human will laugh and so not take themselves so seriously…I decided to consider our obsession with making excuses.

Who wants to confess first?  “Me!”  “Me!”  If we make a game of facing our demons and finding them idiotic and childish, maybe we will look around and see a role model of maturity worth emulating.

I once read a fairy tale of a boy visiting the ‘Goody Shoppe’.  His friend, being hungry wanted a good breakfast and the old woman asked if the lad wanted a good excuse.  “All boys want a good excuse!”  She declared.  He just wanted good directions.  Taking their cans outside, the friend saw his held birdseed.  “Ha!”  Cried the lad,  “It surely is a good breakfast for birds!” But when his can held the words “Go left!”  The laugh was on him. He realized it could just as well said, “Go right.”   Neither felt he had benefitted by their trophies, yet the reader benefitted greatly.  Didn’t you?

Excuses are like the leaves on a tree.  You have to see what branch is attached to what trunk which is attached to what roots.  Before you can eradicate the effect we can all see, we must first get to the root!  Do this exercise:  take a piece of paper and draw a tree with branches and roots.  Attach a large leaf called ‘Excuse’ #1. followed by #2 and #3.

Off to the side list an excuse you heard today, either given by yourself or given by another.  This may be a child’s, “It’s not my fault.”  It may be a workman’s, “I needed better tools.”  It may be an elderly voice, “I’m not as young as I once was.”  If you see the root is fear and can see if perhaps the person gave it from fear of not being accepted or respected or seen as innocent, you can see how ‘Forgiveness’ and the spirit of ‘Unconditional love’ dissolves away the hurt and bitterness.

I had to clean a mess at the table when Mom knocked over her tea.  After mopping the spill and changing her clothes, I was distracted to other things.  My son took the next shift in the morning and called me on what I had left undone.
“Mom, the Kleenex box and plastic place-mat were stuck to the table! Here is gunk and you need to clean it up!”  (Wow!  I’m guilty.  I’m tempted to make some clever remark to ease the sting.  I face the fear of ______, and realize he is not trying to humiliate me, but get the scene set to rights.) I say, “Oh, my, I’m sorry, let me get a paper towel and Windex and get that up!”

What did you fill into the blank?  Degradation?  Accusation?  Shame?  Defamation?  Some other DE word?  Recrimination?

On with the story.  After wiping the glass table twice with the Windex, the sun shining in showed the glass was still streaked.  I said, ‘There you go.”  He said, “Not from where I stand.”  Of course I could see the streaks, but I had cleaned it twice!  “It’s the product,”  I excused,  “Windex always streaks.”  My son said, with much patience, “Oh, you can keep working on the table and get up the dirt you just pushed around by rubbing harder in small circles.”  Then he went on to demonstrate for another three or four minutes of hard rubbing how to get streaks off with extra effort.  I was amazed.

Later I told my sister of the incident and how I had at my age learned something new.  I also learned she regarded my standards sub-prime and that she would never have allowed anyone to sit at a streaked table.  Once again, I was sorely tempted to make my excuses,  “I didn’t know it could be cleaned that well until I was shown.”  She was having none of that.  “You may have settled for streaks in the past, but we do not sit Mom down to a streaked table.  We honor her too much for that.”

To end the lesson, I ate the humble pie and said, “Well, now I will be able to, seeing as my concept that the product left streaks has a follow through with extra effort to get a cleaner shine.”

Now that is a great excuse, people, and you can have it from me for free!



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