It is one of the most human things of all to know something, to know you know something, and still to behave sometimes as if you don’t know it. The key, I guess, is in how we deal with that.
There are clay tablets in the British Museum scratched with parts of a story called The Epic of Gilgamesh. They are very old. It’s a story that has been around in written form for about four thousand years. It was probably being told long before anyone wrote it down.
On his quest Gilgamesh comes to realise that “The life which you look for, you will never find.” Humans have known this for at least four millennia — but I have never met anyone who’s stopped looking.
I don’t know what the answer is for coming to terms with our human inadequacies. It’s probably something to do with the difference between accepting responsibility and taking blame, between regret and guilt, between making amends and beating yourself up.
It’s worth reflecting that if you are aggressive with yourself about your failures then you are adding aggression to a world that already has more than enough. But if you can be gentle with yourself while not dodging responsibility then you are adding to the sum of gentleness and also moving forward.
We need to be careful that we don’t try so hard to become the person that we’d like to be that we forget to be who we already are.
Everything always seems to come back to relaxing with what is.