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William Blake: God Judging Adam (ca. 1795)

" … exclusively reserved for my inner masochist."

Who judges Successes and failures? For me, most of the time, it's nobody but me. This assertion makes sense since nobody but I witnesses most of what I do. I am usually the only witness to my actions. Only a select few of my engagements ever prove witnessable because most of them occur entirely, or mostly, in my head. A few busybodies with nothing better to do might be snooping over the back fence, but nobody really cares about their judgments, so they make lousy Judges, anyway. The ever-feared Court Of Public Opinion might render the occasional decision, too, but only the upwardly mobile ever really care to seek their opinion. Bosses, spouses, and police forces each seem inattentive compared to my primary Judges: me, myself, and I.

I sometimes wonder why I ever subject myself to harsh judgment.
I could, without permission, be amazingly lenient with myself. I could judge myself Successful regardless of my results, even when I barely manage to Successfully make a big mess of something. There's always the old reliable 'E' for Effort available, and even when I don't contribute all that much effort, I'm almost always present. I could count on my making an appearance the underlying purpose and award myself a psychic blue ribbon again. Or am I trying to live a behavioral science experiment, dispensing sticks and carrots, trying to train myself for something?

Sometimes my life seems like a continual Zimbardo Prison Experiment, with me dispensing unreasonable punishments upon myself. I've proven myself more than capable of harshly judging, sometimes even approaching hanging judge class, probably for only the very best of misguided reasons. I've lost faith in sticks and carrots. I no longer get my kicks from making harsh judgments. I yesterday attended a funeral service and was impressed at just how saintly had lived our dearly departed. I knew him, though, and understood that his epitaph was most generous. Not one person attending that service wished any worse judgment on that fellow. He was not even present to defend himself. His progeny, even his ex-spouse, proved to be the most generous Judges. Nothing would have been gained from telling any different stories.

It occurs to me this morning, after sleeping on that funeral experience, that since I am my most frequent Judge, I might more often find reason to be even more generous than I've been. If I retained my wits along with my wit, I might be capable of perceiving the Success within pretty much everything in which I engage. Only my inner masochist ever really appreciates the punishments I dispense on myself. My Judgement mainly serves as acknowledgment, a notice that I noticed and need not carry a guilty or innocent charge. It could just be. I might be better off if I tenaciously presumed my own innocence and my own Success. Failure might be exclusively reserved for my inner masochist.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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