Something must be in the air.
I don’t know if it’s the full moon, the planets in retrograde, or some other universal tug—or maybe it’s just because all of my friends are starting to get to that age when we’ve earned the right to sit down, relax with a skinny vanilla latte and reflect on our lives so far. In any case, I’ve heard so much talk about “what could have been” lately that I just need to add my two cents.
“Who could I be now if I could erase mistakes and forget the pain of the past?” wrote one of my Facebook friends today.
Really? I don’t understand why anyone would want to do that.
I have wandered through life without fear, for the most part, sometimes foregoing what my mom would call common sense to follow my heartsong. I’ve made decisions by listening to my inner voice and experienced tremendous joy and fulfillment.
I’ve climbed higher mountains, broken out of boxes, and lived out a whole lot of other greeting card clichés because I haven’t been afraid to say, “Why not?”
But, I admit it. I have made more mistakes than many people, and boy, are some of them whoppers. I’ve tried, many times, to conform and be someone I am not. That didn’t work out so well.
Sometimes I’ve had to work harder, be more dedicated, suck it up, make sacrifices, cry alone, eat my words, hang my head in shame and suffer in silence for choices I’ve made. To be honest, those times have been really awful. I wouldn’t wish them on anyone.
But, you know what? I’ve also picked myself up, dusted myself off, and said, “Wow, I won’t do that again!”
The rub is, neither is better. I know what feels better, of course. I’d rather be happy and successful and smiling all the time, sure. But I don’t believe our journey here on this third rock is all about tallying those feel-good times and being “comfortable.”
Our mistakes also help us to see others in a new light. We begin to recognize that no one is immune from making bad decisions and failure. We learn to judge less and love more, and with some work, we also learn that we are worthy of love despite our own flaws. We learn to forgive others, and we learn to forgive ourselves.
We all have a potential that reaches far beyond what we can see and feel on any given day, and the only way to tap into it is to not be afraid to take that step, knowing full well that we might fall flat on our faces.
But if we do, it’s all part of who we are becoming.
So who would I be if I could erase the painful times and call “Do over!” on certain choices?
Not who I am now, I think. And I like this person.
There is no such thing as a bad decision, just a failure to learn. None of us escape without mistakes and regrets, but they, too, are part of the journey. Our mistakes teach us to do better—to make better choices, to have more empathy for others, and to understand what it is like to be fully connected, loving each other and allowing others to love us unconditionally.
We’d never understand these things if we never failed.
So live, love, and fall down every now and then. It is in these moments, and what they shape us into, that life becomes truly worthwhile and beautiful.
Author: Amanda Christmann
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Image: Natalia Drepina/Deviantart