In the end what we do lives up to expectations or disappoints.
A relativist might say “higher or lower on the satisfaction scale.”
A Pollyanna might say “Great! Or EVEN GREATER!”
The 21st century “spiritual person” might say “it’s all good.”
My father (and thus, of course, part of me) would say it’s “Right” or “Wrong”.
Flaws are everywhere. I am sentenced to find them, without end, in buildings. We all find them – some in the 3 pound weight gain (for me that’s dinner) or others in miscarriages of justice, or, for me, Eli Manning in the 3rd quarter.
But “Right” and “Wrong” are the starkest of value proclamations – and it’s done by everyone, everyday, and it has to be done. I have find the wrong in every drawing of my staff, the results of the contractor, this text: if I do not, then I am wrong.
Doctors have to be right, or it gets bad for us. Juries should be correct or lives and cultures can be wrecked. Our political leaders – well, let’s not go there.
Being married for 36.5 years (actually 36.3 – I have been told I exaggerate) I can warrant a natural focus in family matters comes down to clarifying right from wrong: fact-checking spouses or giving the moral compass a shake for your spawn is just what most families are hard wired to do.
But this moment of extreme internet hubris the focus, celebration, joy found by those pointing to the wrong of others is at an all time record level. A Facebook friend takes photos of poorly parked cars. Endless videos of skateboard/skiing/dog face-plants. Spelling errors on signs – and on and on.
But that focus can wreck you, me, us. My father was a very unhappy, objectively professionally successful person who needed to grade lives: people barely knew, races, his wife, children, but mostly himself. I survived by getting early “incompletes” as the other family members were his focus: but in the end he somehow failed his own GPA threshold to being admitted to a life he respected.
We have a defined number of clock-ticks, heartbeats and places to go/people to see before the Test is called, we put our pencils down and hand in our lives to the Teacher. I am hoping Lent can serve as Spark Notes for the Final Exam.