Very few mistakes are unrecoverable from, unless you are a brain surgeon who has gin and Cheerios for breakfast to get your steady on. Years ago a brilliant man during my therapy session pointed out my penchant to being hyper-vigilant. Not only did I have a plan “A” if things went wrong, I had plans up to “W” as back-ups and they were even scripted with dialog for all the players. It was exhausting being me. I was too afraid to make a mistake and, if I did, I was vigilant to recover before anyone knew. I was cautious to say the least; I was not living a life. I was preparing to have a very nice, clean, and efficient resume; it, however, would make for a terrible eulogy. As a recovering control freak and writer, not having a good eulogy falls under the category of “I can’t like that” as my niece Kaelea would say. Turns out my mistakes are where my learning is, my human frailty and my strength. Mistakes are where our character is derived.
As anyone who has delivered a eulogy knows, whether formally or late at night with too much wine, the best parts of the stories attached to those we have loved and lost are the best parts of living: It is our recklessness, our mistakes, and most importantly, our recovery. Making amends, building bridges, admitting to our flaws, and doing our best to learn and do less harm moving forward. Character is not built on our success in our field, our houses, our IQ’s, our cars or the quality of “hotness” of ourselves or our partners. It is built on compassion, humility, connection, service to others, humor, and small kindnesses done over and over when nobody is watching. It is in the marriage between the absurd and the profound with statements like “I’ll be there in a minute, I am just icing down the urine” when packing to go to the hospital and enjoying the laughter and tragedy that are enmeshed in that moment. It comes from behaving in a manner that is true and just to the best of our ability in any given situation on any given day. Sometimes this shows up sitting next to a frightened friend in a hospital bed and holding their hand or making a stressed-out co-worker laugh so hard they pee a little. As we know, our “best” is a mutable variable of given factors like have we slept, eaten, do we feel safe? Other times it is not making it about our safety or vulnerability but just reaching out despite those factors to say things like, “I see you,” I’m sorry,” “Yep this is scary,” “ Are you okay?” and “Can I help?”
Courage is doing something despite the fear and the perceived consequences. Some of my faith comes from belief in my skills and ability to right my ship, my life, in any storm. It may be ugly but it will be okay, whatever okay looks like at that time. Letting go of expectations, of pain, and resentment and living for the pure pleasure of the experience, even the painful ones, all of this builds character, purpose and vision. This means we live from a place of alignment where what we say and what we do match consistently in our thoughts and in our deeds, where we do our best to not always make it about us, yet, always remember it is about us. Does that make sense? We are a component of the whole. So how we see things is how they are, until we see them differently. In other words, we can use our power for good or douchiness.
It is a sure bet I will continue to make mistakes, and I will make a fool of myself, I will be an ass and mess up on a monumental scale. I am okay with that as long as my intent is true; my recovery includes an apology and learning, that there is humor, and grace and I shine a light on the dark place that might have begotten that mistake. Being aware of what I will leave behind, how I treated those who knew me and what will my legacy be. That focus is a nice way to keep my eye on what matters to me. I am doing my best to be my best, to try, to give and to have a hell of a good time doing all of the above. I am only interested in when all is said and done that I did my best, loved well, lived with integrity, heart, and humor and helped in any small way the people I met along the road. My hope is that maybe if I live well it might make a hell of a eulogy. Hey you can’t blame a writer for trying to provide good material!