Excuses are not solutions

excusesExcuses. This is a meditation on excuses. Since it is, I am going to write it in the first person so there can be no mistake. I am not writing about you. I am not writing about your mistakes or your ability to justify them. That is your own business to choose to face or cover up as you like. I am only writing about excuses and my own concept of and relationship with and to them. If you hear a voice talking about you, that is all you. If that is the case, perhaps you may go write your own meditation on the excuses you make. I make no excuses for myself here. I admit nothing, other than I have an interest in and commitment to growth, which involves being honest about things like this. This is an exercise, not a fact.

I sometimes make excuses. To myself. To others. For myself. For others. Out loud. Quietly, inside. Consciously. Unconsciously. In an effort to avoid guilt or accountability, small or large? I am sure I have done this. To justify reasons for not wanting to do something? Sure. Why is making excuses so easy? Why do I have to actively and consciously shape myself against doing it? For example, I might justify my mistakes with anecdotal rhetoric that has nothing to do with accountability or resolving it. It may take me much longer to find a solution to something, directly proportionate to how much time I waste crafting an excuse that I am comfortable with. As I age, I am much more interested in solutions than excuses. Excuses rob me of learning experiences. In all fairness, though, I do not want to unfairly make excuses for writing about excuses.

What I find interesting about excuses as I age is this – I make less of them on my own behalf, as that is an active and intentional choice (why else would I be writing this?), however, I find I make excuses for friends and family as much as ever. I have only a few friends who I can speak to genuinely and tell them they really fucked up or really came through or whatever, on-the-level. Most of my casual pals are not interested in hearing it. That is okay, though, as I age I am becoming more and more tuned into each person’s comfort level. I used to do the intelligent thing. Now, I am far more interested in doing the kind thing (except in the case of challenging myself with meditations like this). Likewise, I sometimes make excuses for my family and the way they process big life events, ones we share and their own, personal ones. As a workaround, these days I have daydreams about conversations we might have about them, supporting each other, crying, screaming, laughing, evolving. Growing. I have courageous conversations with myself about them and answer their questions in the same honest and compassionate way, without resistance, without any push back against who might be “winning” or handling things better than who. I tell them how I might imagine our hangups inform each other, whether through sophisticated genetics or simple, emotional ties. In the end, we are remarkably clear about things, even as it is only an exercise in my own imagination. Why didn’t I think to discover this years ago? Certainly no surrogate for the real thing but, in lieu of that, I appreciate it if only for a chance to send them love and support in some unseen, though no less valid, way.

I have made excuses for people I once loved with all my heart who made their own mistakes of betrayal, abandonment, or isolation. I will likely not have such courageous conversations with them, either, so I have them in similar, imaginary settings. I do this for the selfish motive of uncovering more excuses I have made and, in doing so, also uncover beautiful memories. Sharing these with them is not possible but it is my reward for the exercise. Perhaps that is what makes it such a mythological ritual, this meditation, uncovering, a reverent matter intended only for myself in a certain visceral time and space. I make some silliness in the midst of it, too, as it goes, just as I might were it happening in reality. Silliness is the mechanism which works best to deliver wisdom. It is how I get through to myself. In these conversations, I uncover the excuses I made for things big and little. In the end we apologize, and wink at each other. They always end well. Funny what happens when courage is combined with accountability.

I care about what my people think and how they feel. I sometimes do not know I am helping others make excuses. It is my goal to be more aware of this. I want my people to feel good and confident and not take their insecurities out on me or abuse me as a form of affection. I realize that this is an expression for some, especially those who have endured the schisms of others for too long. It is easy to become desensitized to what is acceptable and constructive. I do not give myself permission to return that abuse as intended, no matter how they may attempt to bend, confuse, or move me into those patterns. For example, I might gently ask why someone has apologized for something out of their control. I will nudge them but only show them the door, not kick them through it. Still, I will not make excuses for making excuses helping any of them move further down a road we all may know leads back to the beginning of ugh.

I am as honest as I am able to be about this life: the roads I take are of my own design. No one makes me do anything. There are no victims in the matter of making excuses. Should I choose to not stand up for myself, that is my choice. Should I choose to make an excuse, I cannot blame anyone ex post facto for my lack of will. I can only move forward more aware of the possible outcomes of not being true to these thoughts, having experienced fully what that means in the moment and into the future. Excuses are informal fallacies of reasoning. There is simply no excuse for them. This is one of my resolutions this year, to continue being mindful of excuses and their overhead. I suppose that is why I write this. It will be interesting to revisit this in a year’s time. Meanwhile, Happy New Year.