I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life; it’s a safe bet I’ll make more before I’m done. Hopefully plenty of time to make plenty more doo-doos.

But as my biological odometer clocks up another year – I turned 63 yesterday – and I anticipate, warily, the scrapheap, my thoughts turn less to celebration than to chagrin. I think of all the people I’ve let down, over the years, people who had the right to expect better of me. I’m reminded of those I have hurt, seldom deliberately I’d like to think, but all too often out of hubris, or pride, or selfishness; out of a truly world-class ability to delude myself. I think of the many, many times I’ve behaved like an asshole. Frankly, I’m embarrassed.

And I am sorry, really sorry, for all I’ve done wrong in the world (if you are reading this, and recognize who you are, if you are one of those I have injured or let down or offended, I hope you will forgive me).

I realise one doesn’t get off that easily, of course – a written apology, posted on the internet, and in return, a get-out-of-jail-free card. In religious terms (I am not religious) contrition must be followed by penance, and atonement; psychologists will tell you behaviour change, not regret, is what’s really important.

I agree with all this. But in trying to do better, and be better, I must also acknowledge my baked-in imperfection. By which I mean, not the biblical flaw that follows from Adam and Eve and that serpent stuff, but the limitations and faults that come with my particular historical, sociological, parental and personal territory. Not to mention the choices I have made, and the roads not taken.

Shift happens – as my former life-coach Helena Dolny would put it – but shit happens, also.

Instead of the hubris of seeking perfection, a little self-improvement, a little self-mockery, a little self-chiding, and a small, very small dose of self-forgiveness may turn out to be the beginnings of wisdom.

At 63, that seems like something worth working for.

 

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Posted by Glen Fisher

Writer, photographer. Education and skills consultant.

7 Comments

  1. I have known you for going on a quarter of a century, and have almost a seven-year head start on screwing up. Thus, I was relieved to see the follow through, after your self-deprecating opening. If you see yourself as having substantial life baggage, I shudder for the rest of us.

    Compared to almost all others I have met and known in my almost 70 years, you are one of the few who unreservedly meets the definition of the Yiddish word mensch.

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    1. It would be hard to think of a more meaningful honorific. Thank you. And here’s to many more years for both of us – screwing up, but not too badly 🙂

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      1. To which I now metaphorically – and will later physically – hoist a dram of single malt!

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      2. I’m with you on that one!

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  2. Remembering to be gracious with ourselves is as important as to be gracious with others. Forgiveness goes both ways- to forgive and be forgiven. Upon reflection, it’s easy to be hard on oneself for all the missteps along the way. However, growth, compassion and strength have to come from somewhere… Here’s to many more years filled with adventures and layers of love. Thank you for sharing Glen.

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    1. Your words are so right and reassuring, and I couldn’t agree with you more. Thanks Teryl!

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