Do I Contradict Myself?

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

As per always, I was walking around the house the other day lamenting the absolute state of disaster that is the garage, the laundry room, the furnace room, the bedroom, the kitchen sink, the hall closet, the unmade beds, the piles of papers, the crumbs on the floor, the toys strewn everywhere you look… and as I was lamenting I was thinking about all of you that have the perfectly organized all-those-things-I-just-mentioned and a sparkly clean house with a lemon-fresh scent at that, and I was trying to figure out just how you all do it, seriously, and what must be fundamentally wrong with me that I can’t figure it out.

And then I sat down for a minute and looked out the window and watched the battering, torrential rain that was falling, being whipped by a ferocious wind that was making the rain look sideways and testing even the sturdiest of gutters. And I realized just how lucky I was to have a house in the face of that rain. How lucky to not have to deal with that rain—not to have a leaky roof or no roof at all; how lucky to have heat to warm us against the elements. How lucky.

And then it occurred to me as I watched the ferocity outside that if we had a tornado just then I wouldn’t have to deal with the messes in the laundry room, the furnace room, the bedroom, the kitchen sink, the hall closet… a fresh start, voila!

And then it further occurred to me that I really am a horrible person, just as I suspected.


And then I remembered a conversation had recently with some colleagues about one of the great and delightful ironies of Henry David Thoreau, made famous in part by his writings in Walden, a greatly admired piece of work about nature and solitude…a “solitude” during which he brought his dirty laundry home to his mother on the weekends. It reminded me of a quote I love by Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.”

So I contain multitudes, too. I can appreciate the gift of having a house in one breath and then contemplate a tornado sweeping it away in the next. I can pat myself on the back for paying for the guy behind me in the drive-through in one breath and then yell at the cashier at the grocery store for ringing up my ham wrong in the next. I can take a hearty walk followed up by a healthy protein bowl in one moment and then curl up on the couch with a bowl of chips in the next.

Do I contradict myself? Absolutely. For every inspirational quote I post, there are half a dozen curse words I don’t. I can berate myself for those contradictions that show the… err… less than ideal side of me, or I can just remember that I am human.

How can you appreciate your multitudes today? 


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.