“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
I messed up. I made a mistake. I haven’t written 124 blogs; I’ve written 122. Apparently, two of the published blogs were rough drafts that somehow got published. They were actually incomplete first drafts. The final drafts were published. (I’ve Been Feeling a Little Down Today, January 17, and Worse Than a Hangover, January 20.)
This means two things and I don’t know which bothers me more:
1. It means I have two more blogs to write, 28 now, in 10 days.
2. It means my 100th blog was actually my 98th blog.
At the moment I feel frustrated and embarrassed. I can hear voices from the past saying, “You can’t do anything right!”
This statement actually caused me to make more mistakes and, at the same time, be extremely hard on myself. I’m sitting with that statement right now, realizing I’ve been believing it and repeating it to myself all my life. I’m reminded of a time when I was in the UCSD teaching program and I was up with several other students working on a paper. I typed mine but it wouldn’t save. So I typed it again and it still wouldn’t save. This was back in the days of the plastic floppy disk and unbeknownst to me, the disk was damaged. My paper was late even though I had stayed up all night diligently working. In addition, there was a fellow student, who was also one of my supervisors. She was in emotional pain and she asked if I would go to Denny’s with her so she could talk. In an effort to show that I was a diligent student, I said no. There are very few instances in my life that I would do differently, but this is one of them. To this day, I still regret choosing a principal over a person.
In both instances I tried to do the right thing and I messed up. I’m reminded of a quote by Chris Claremont from the Wolverine Limited Series:
“No matter how hard I strive for inner serenity, I screw up. So why bother? I failed myself. Because I lost myself. And yet, the patterns of life are as fluid as those of this gravel. I smooth the stones…new patterns emerge…chaos becomes order. The wheel turns. And from that order…peace?”
Recently, I hurt a friend by overreacting to something that I misinterpreted. Then over a different issue, I hurt my friend again even though I stayed calm. Now I have a damaged relationship and two more blogs two write. Sometimes the voice in my head doesn’t whisper; it shouts, “YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING RIGHT!”
Still despite Wolverine’s angst and my pain, the truth is different. Consider Wolverine’s conclusion to his apparent failure:
“The key isn’t winning… or losing. It’s making the attempt. I may never be what I ought to be, want to be…but how will I know unless I try? Sure, it’s scary, but what’s the alternative? Stagnation… a safer, more terrible form of death. Not of the body, but of the spirit. An animal knows what it is and accepts it. A man many know what he is…but he questions. He dreams. He strives. Changes. Grows.”
There’s more truth here. In pursuing personal growth, I need to recognize that not everything I do is wrong. In fact, I probably do more things right than wrong. In fact, I know I do some things extremely well. It’s a sad fact of life that most of us focus on the negative in ourselves and each other. The mistake is not the mistake. The mistake is letting mistakes define or deter us.
I just saw this funny posting.
“I’m a mistake. My mom didn’t mean to have me. Which is great, because whenever I make a mistake, I can be like, “Whoa! I’m not even supposed to be here.”
So I’m not going to focus on what I’ve done “wrong.” Often, unless I deliberately try to hurt someone, I don’t think I can actually do any wrong. I can just have learning experiences.
I will fix the relationship with my friend.
I will work just a little harder on my blogs.
I will not give up.
I will Get Started and Keep Going.