When I saw mosaic flooring in the public Baths of Caracalla in Rome, I was in awe. Each little piece of that flooring was carefully placed to create a design on the floor. The closer I looked at it, the more I realised how painstakingly they must have been placed in those times when factories weren’t churning out machine-made mosaic tiles. Of course, this is some of the simpler mosaic that the world has seen. There exist full-fledged, intricate, heavily-detailed works of mosaic art. There was even some in Pompeii, buried and perfectly preserved for 2000 years. (Don’t worry: I’m going somewhere with this…)
I chanced upon this article yesterday. It ties in closely with my last post and makes a great point: Everything we do is the real us. If, at times, we’re mean, unkind, uncaring, cruel, that’s a real side of our true selves too. Every such facet, whether good or bad, makes up our whole being. We have several dimensions and may be kind one day and hurtful the next. It’s all part of who we are.
Perhaps we’re afraid of admitting, even to ourselves, that that side of us exists; we want to think of ourselves as inherently good people. We may be, we probably are, but that doesn’t mean we don’t possess those unattractive streaks. I wrote about going against one’s nature; maybe I think it’s “against my nature” because it isn’t a pretty side of me and maybe that’s part of why I feel guilty, along with the possibility that I know I’ve been hurtful and I’m able to tell right from wrong, kind from unkind, niceness from meanness.
Maybe you get angry easily; that’s the real you. Maybe you apologise immediately for being rude; that’s the real you, while you’re being rude and while you’re feeling guilty and while you’re apologising and while you’re making it up to the wounded party. Maybe you are calm sometimes and impatient sometimes; you are always the real you. What you’re doing at every moment is defining who you are at that moment, and each flash is a part of you.
Perhaps we will be able to subdue those sides of us we don’t like very much, which we don’t want representing us. Perhaps we will be successful in not letting them surface often. Perhaps we will be able to keep a tighter leash on our ability to be hurtful in the moment, regretting it later. But that will come only with awareness of our good and bad qualities. We may all want to think of ourselves as good, kind, warm people, but we must be able to admit that we have moments when we give in to our baser instincts, when we get angry, when we don’t care, when we are selfish and mean and hurtful. As that article mentions, if you think that isn’t really you, you’re kidding yourself.
It’s like a intricate piece of mosaic art: Each tiny, little piece is an integral part of it, adds color to it, gives it shape, perhaps makes it unique…even the pieces close to its border, which we may not think are important, which we may choose to ignore, complete the picture. And although there may be a few pieces in the mosaic which are ugly, which look like they shouldn’t belong there, they exist, they lend some more character, and, if we’re looking at it right, cannot detract from the splendour and beauty of the entire work.