Many years ago when I took refuge and became a Buddhist, I was plagued by concerns that I wasn’t doing it right. I wasn’t meditating correctly, reading the right books, saying the right prayers.
In the LGBTQ+ community, I’m always faced with a business I should or shouldn’t support because of their stance on queer rights. In fact, just using the letters “LGBT” are an issue either because of the order they’re used or because they don’t include the right combination of additional letters to be fully inclusive.
As an organic gardener, I was always supposed to grow non-GMO heirloom seeds in homemade compost, with a focus on plants that were native to my region.
When I ate a plant-based diet, I was automatically expected to embrace every animal rights view no matter how extreme, because to not do so means that I’m not a “real vegan”.
Working in addiction and recovery, the party line dictates that if you’re not “clean and sober”, you’re not really in recovery, and I fight that false stigma with all that I have.
In my work with people who are unsheltered, there are extreme views at every point along the way, and everyone I encounter expects me to fully embrace theirs.
When you live your life as a series of restrictions, you’re living a restricted life. I choose to live mine with love and compassion as my primary focus. Using those pillars as my baseline, I will live my life based on what is right for me and those closest to me. You’re welcome to disagree – that’s part of the beauty of being human – but expecting someone to change based on your opinion is setting yourself up for failure.
Just do your best, be good to yourself and others, and never forget that I love you, and that excludes no one.