“You’re pretty hard on yourself, aren’t you?”
I laughed, although what I wanted to say was,
“Shouldn’t I be?”
I know myself too well to let myself too loose.
The first sign of wisdom is also its curse:
A painful awareness of my own limitations.
I used to ride with the training wheels on,
And the memory of them is still a silent alarm in my skull,
But it does nothing to stop me from falling.
Now I learn to ride by picking myself up
Again and again
After every scraped elbow
And torn knee.
“You’re pretty hard on yourself.”
Isn’t that the job description?
The higher standard of this calling necessitates
Some higher level of self-criticism.
How is wisdom different from those training wheels?
Because now, when I fall,
Someone else gets hurt.
I’ve got friends sitting on handlebars
(And might one day have congregants in the basket)
And to crash now would be to send them sprawling, too.
How can I ask for grace for that?
So yes, I’m hard on myself.
I heed the vaporous training wheels’ warning,
Even if it means I slap away my own hands when they risk reaching out.
Maybe the next sign of wisdom will be the blessing,
The unbridled embrace,
And the freedom to finally remove the batteries from this screaming alarm.