Some people believe that the truest test of one’s character is how someone acts when no one is watching.
Interesting concept, and probably more accurate than most people would like to admit.
Anyone who claims to be completely honest and straightforward and “real” 100% of the time is a liar. It simply can’t be done. I’m not being pessimistic when I say that. I’m just acknowledging the fundamental nature of human beings–we are imperfect beings.
Funny thing is, as we grow from children to adolescents and adults, we learn to work the system. We put on masks as we face the world, doing our best to show other people what we think they want to see. We do our best to hide our imperfections and our shortcomings. And even though we may try to be truthful and to be good people, our best is never 100%.
Take me for instance. I try to be a good mother. Hell, I would even say I strive for greatness. I want to be the best possible parent I can be for my daughter. I read her books. I feed her a good balance of healthy foods and special treats on occasion. I change her diaper regularly. I enforce the rules and make sure she gets a nap and gets to bed at a reasonable hour. I make sure that she doesn’t make a habit of eating Electra’s dog food. And I do what I can to help mold her into a productive and responsible member of society.
And yet, for all the checks on my Good Mom list, I am certainly not perfect.
I get frustrated and sometimes yell when I’m running behind on a photo order or trying to finish up an article for deadline and Cadence just won’t leave me alone for five minutes. I sometimes let her fuss in her crib for a few minutes in the morning while I go make myself a cup of coffee. And I’ve even just stood by and watched when Cadence has dropped a piece of food on the floor and then picked it up and put it back in her mouth because I didn’t feel like it was worth the battle that would ensue if I attempted to pry it back out of her mouth. Plus, those little baby teeth are razor sharp man! She bites down just right and I could lose a digit.
I’m not implying that people are are bad or evil by nature. Not at all. In fact, I believe quite the opposite. In general, I tend to think that human beings are naturally good. I think that maybe we all have the capacity to do bad things, even horrible things under the right circumstances, but I think that most people spend their time here on earth just trying to survive and be happy. Are there bad people in this world? Yes. Are there evil people walking around who have absolutely no respect for human life, and whose only desire is to harm and kill others? Yes. But are there good people too? Yes. Yes. Yes. Sometimes it’s just hard to recognize them in the chaos.
If you ever want to get a good look at the true nature of human beings, if you want to catch a glimpse of that loving spirit that we all have inside of us, just sit back and watch young children play together. Sit far back, so they forget that you’re even watching. Those children that may have been yelling or fighting or vying for your undivided attention just moments ago, will suddenly refocus their attention on each other, and you just might be amazed how how beautifully they get along.
Yesterday, my nephew Odin came over for awhile, and I sat back and just let him and Cadence run around and play. Funny how easily they shared toys and took turns going down the slide when I wasn’t jumping in and telling them to do it. They ran and giggled and screeched with laughter. When Cadence fell down, Odin offered her a hand up, and then held on long enough to make sure she got back up out of the hole okay.
And in true Cadence fashion, my daughter made goofy faces and noises, and perhaps even told a few jokes in toddler language so her cousin could have a good laugh.
There was no fighting or crying, no toy hogging or fit throwing. There was just a whole lot of fun.
It made me wonder, as I looked back at these photos I took, how different out world would be if we adults could take a lesson from our children and act like no one is watching. I think that if we could put even half as much energy into loving each other as we do in hating and judging and putting other people down, our world would be a much different (and much more beautiful) place.
Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to the sweet little souls that make me want to be a better person, and to everyone else out there just trying trying to do the same.