I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing. ~ Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
By the end of last week, I was fed up with my many inadequacies. The frustration of the day was my lack of mastery of the Italian language. As I studied yet again, an URGENT notice from my children’s school, the only line I translated successfully was “attention parents.” After putting the notice contents into Google Translate, I ended up with, “For time study staying stop April.” I even led my son astray with his English worksheets because the grammatical rules for British English are different from American English and it was covered with sentences such as:
- Have you got a green dress?
- I will just have a quick bath before we go out.
- They needn’t come to school today.
By the time I climbed into bed on Friday, I was determined to shore up my inadequacies after a good night’s sleep.
Saturday, we drove to France. It was only when we arrived in Nice, France that I realized how much Italian I knew! Instead of defaulting to English while shopping for produce, ordering in restaurants, or navigating crowded streets, I was speaking Italian. My brain was working overtime to shift gears to French when I started to laugh at the irony of it all. Just 12 hours ago, I was beating myself up over my lack of Italian comprehension and now I have discovered yet another shortcoming. It dawned on me that until I start accepting where I am and enjoying the process of learning more, I will continue to feel that I am not enough. As I stood in the middle of the Nice airport, asking for directions to the car rental desk in Italian, I vowed to leave the judgment behind.
Today is about knowing, without a doubt, life lessons will repeat as often as they need to for me to grasp the learning. I am no longer willing to judge and punish myself as a form of motivation, even if I can’t read an URGENT notice from the principal correctly. I am going to trust that my willingness to venture outside of my comfort zone means that I will find the resources to succeed. Most of all, I am going to try to remember to enjoy the uncertainty that sometimes scares me, as I venture further away from everything I once knew for sure.
It is so exciting to accept not knowing because it means that knowledge is then possible and imminent. It takes courage to say, “I don’t know” but it is often the truth. Saying it brings to life a flutter of the possibility that is dormant when I believe I must have all the answers. With the resistance and judgment out of the way, there is just anticipation of growth from a place of centered acceptance. If you must start by saying it in French. Je ne sais pas. Everything sounds better in French.