A mother overheard some people criticize a project her teenager was doing. Many people thought the teen was doing a fine job, a few did not. The mom asked me, what I thought she should she say or do about those people. How can she protect the child from the critics? She can’t of course. Any more than than we can eat broccoli and have our children can get the nutrients. It reminds me of when my wife and I were new parents and we were told that all kids will eat a pound of dirt by the time they turn 2. No sense freaking out every time they put dirty fingers or raw soil in their maw, we were told. It is part of growing up. We did freak out (though we’ve relaxed a good deal since) because we’re parents and don’t want our kids exposed to risk. Medicine now understands that kids that are exposed to more dirt will have fewer allergies and sick days. The immune system needs the stress to develop properly. As does the ego.
I got fired from one of my veterinary jobs. I was in Pensacola working in a clinic that could best be describe as a bad fit. I knew I had to go, he knew I had to go. He told me to move on. I was shocked and angry at first. Then I came to accept that it was not rejection so much as a course correction. It was dirt I had to eat. No one could eat it for me. I needed the Ecclesiastical punch to my vanity. In her book, “Feel the Fear, Do It Anyway,” Susan Jeffers talks about how one’s course in life is like an airplane flight path. Planes don’t fly straight, they waver some as the winds buffet them. As you travel from the start to the destination, you veer off course and then veer back. The signal to veer back is the pain or discomfort of being off course. In that case, pain or discomfort is really the world telling you you are off course. That’s what makes mistakes in judgement so important. They are indicators, gifts, even. In the song, “If You Could Only See”, by Tonic, (see YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sfg6-4mBs6Y) there is a lyric (at the 2:06 time mark), “and you got to take a little dirt to keep what you love, that’s what you gotta do.” And you do. Whether it’s literal dirt or figurative dirt. You gotta take it, no one can take it for you.