In a discussion about controlling emotions, the topic of gedolim came up. The issue was precisely, I felt that it was unnatural to be so in control of your emotions that you could turn them on and off as necessary. Isn't the natural reaction of raw emotion the truest one's emotions could ever be? The more you control them, the more affected they are, right? But then it was explained to me - no. If you truly understand the emotion, you'll be able to assume it without it being affected at all but rather having it be that emotion in its truest form, as if you naturally experienced it. But still, intellectually knowing that a certain emotion is supposed to be felt at a certain time and then putting yourself in the mindset to have that emotion, even if you understand it - isn't that still false? Because that emotion is not your natural instinct! Except I know that you can make the argument, "but if you are on such a level that you truly understand your emotions, it will be natural instinct." I recognize this argument, but I am having trouble internalizing it. Something about it still feels unnatural.
Then someone commented that there are gedolim who have practiced in this manner with their emotions. So I responded, "But just because a gadol can do it doesn't mean I can." This comment was met with, "Don't put gedolim on such a pedestal that you feel you can never reach their level. Who says you can't?"
And then it struck me. It struck me so forcefully that I actually blurted it out: "But what if I don't want to?"
What? Not want to be on the level of the gedolim? Not want to go beyond that level - not want to strive for perfection? I was asked, why would I not want to be the most perfect that I could be?
I thought about it and realized something odd. I enjoy being imperfect. I like my imperfections. They're what make me human. They're what give me the ability to form opinions and learn and grow and be faced with difficult choices and...and even be wrong. Can you imagine - I like being wrong? Not all the time, of course, but it's part of learning. I love learning. I love growing and maturing and recognizing new things about myself and the world every single day. I love the surprises that an imperfect existence brings. And the closer one gets to perfection, the less room there is for growth - isn't there?
But then I thought of something else. What if the real reason I like being imperfect is because I don't know anything different? What if my imperfections are the very things which are keeping me from striving for perfection? What if I'm simply comfortable with being imperfect and am therefore not particularly enticed by a world of utter perfection? Obviously, human beings can never achieve complete perfection, but even the level of gedolim is not something particularly appealing to me. I like that there are gedolim, of course, but I would never strive to be at their level.
This comes from the same reasoning behind why, as a little kid, I used to not want Mashiach to come. Oh, sure, part of me did, but most of me was happy with my life and didn't want to change it. Is all this just anxiety about change, even change for the better? Is it a self-destructive attitude? And how much should gedolim be revered, anyhow? Obviously they are gedolim for a reason, and even though there are others who can reach that potential, not everyone can. If everyone could be a leader, we'd have a community of all leaders and no followers. Wouldn't that just be anarchy?
I apologize if this post was a bit confusing. My thoughts can get that way sometimes.