Once, when I still lived with my parents, I literally swept some dirt under a rug. I am pretty sure I was headed out with a friend or expecting a friend to come over so I tried to quickly complete the chore of sweeping. At the time, it seemed easier to lift the corner of the rug, shove the dirt pile under the rug and move on rather than sweep it into a dust pan. Out of sight, out of mind and for all anyone else knew I had completed the job correctly. The floor looked clean!
The whole time I was with my friend I kept thinking back to the dirt under the rug. What if while I was gone my mom suddenly got the urge to rearrange the furniture, including the rug, and found the dirt? What if somehow the corner of the rug flipped up and the dirt was exposed? I had so many "what ifs" going through my mind. I realized it would have been much easier just to acknowledge the dirt and clean it up correctly instead of trying to make is appear like I had cleaned. Sigh.
This post isn't about the immense regret I have for sweeping dirt under a rug when I was a teenager :) It is, however, one of my favorite things: an analogy.
We all have dirt. As individuals we have dirt, as families, friends, communities, etc. It seems that more times than not people choose to go to the extra effort of lifting the rug and sweeping the dirt under the rug instead of actually cleaning up the dirt or acknowledging that they even have dirt. Why? It seems easier and it keeps up appearances. Ah....appearances. The older I get the more I hate the idea of keeping up appearances, as if the people we are keeping them up for are perfect? And if they knew we had dirt they would be far superior? No. Once the dirt is successfully hidden there's always a chance of it being discovered which ultimately leads to another discovery.....that you're a liar. That's worse than the existence of dirt. To have dirt is human; to lie about it is stupid. We put ourselves through this vicious cycle of hiding things about ourselves and protecting what's been hidden all in the name of appearance. So why not just acknowledge the dirt in the first place and deal with it?
Maybe the dirt has increased or gotten muddy or debris has been added. It looks bad and maybe it is bad but you want people to think that you have the perfect life, the perfect family--the perfect everything-- so much so that when it isn't perfect you will settle for the appearance of perfect and the stress and tension that comes with keeping up with the appearance.
Nearly 10 years ago, I had a goal for my life that I immediately put into motion. That goal was to have a normal, drama free life. Little did I know that the drama of others could have a significant impact on staying true to my goal but I think I've done pretty well despite a few set backs. 10 years ago I cleaned out the dirt and discovered that most of the dirt I had been sweeping under the rug wasn't mine. I had been helping others hide their dirt, against my will, and when I put an end to that.....a lot of relationships ended. And that's okay. I'd rather be happy, honest and focused on bettering myself than helping others live in a fantasy land.
My life is not perfect. There are things I wish had never happened. There are decisions that are difficult to live with but at the end of the day I know I don't have any secrets. And if my lack of secrets offends you or exposes your dirt.....sorry 'bout it. Who are you trying to impress?