When you are constantly judging what you are doing, you aren’t here. You aren’t present. You are standing outside of your life, looking in, observing.
The time for judgement will come at some point, but in the moment you have only the 1. And then the 2. And then the 3…
The first number is always a 1.
You don’t know what you have when you start and so you suspend judgement on whatever it is you’re doing while you’re doing it.
(Rob Bell, How to be here)
I have a very deep instinct for judgement, and it is most persistently and critically aimed at myself. When I was a kid, and who am I kidding, even as an adult, I catch myself imagining random authority figures or experts critiquing whatever I’m doing, from bedtime-story-reading to washing-up. (Yes, really).
It’s an almost paralysing need to ‘get things right’ – and the older I get the more I realise what a complete farce it is, because what does that even mean?
I can laugh at the very idea. But if I’m honest, it’s hard to transition from a life of strong conviction about getting things right (deluded as it was), towards a life where I am following my instincts and the nudging of the Spirit without the conclusive conviction that this is the RIGHT THING or the RIGHT PATH. Telling myself it’s ok to try, it’s not to be sure, it’s ok to nudge and stumble forward and make a bit of a mess.
I love Rob Bell’s words above, from his latest book, about not needing to know where things are going (or not going). All we see at the start is the first step, the idea, the beginning, and so that’s the only step to take.
I’m trying to respond to that invitation to start, to be here, to not know, to not end-game; and to abandon my fear of being wrong. And these familiar words from Rilke help:
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
(Rainer Maria Rilke)
Jenny Flannagan lives in Luton, UK, with her husband and two small kiddos. She is an actress and writer, currently works at Youthscape and blogs at jennyfromtheblock.co.uk.