I was just driving down Washington Street in Marquette, MI, and glanced at the speed limit sign on the right.
Speed limit 50.
I am fifty. That’s my number right now. But Tuesday I must surrender it. And then this number that represents half a century of life, that freaks most folks out, but that I have embraced – this great number will no longer be mine.
And I will simply be 51.
Nothing real cool about that.
I will be on the Other Side of 50. That’s the hill right? And I’m now over it? On the downward slope?
50 years of life, of learning.
I keep learning and so I discover better ways to do things. I see places where I thought I was right, but I was wrong. I gain a better understanding of myself, others, life. But there is no going back to apply these lessons learned. No do overs. My kids are grown so the lessons I have learned about parenting can only be passed on to those who are parenting growing children now.
In 50 years I have made a lot of mistakes. Reflecting on my mistakes Regret becomes an unwelcome companion.
“Hello my name is Regret. I’m pretty sure we have met. Every day of your life, I’m the whisper inside that won’t let you forget.” (Matthew West, Hello my name is…)
Regret might whisper to Matt West, but it is much bolder with me. It prefers to use memories like postcards and flash the images before my eyes till I cringe, blush from embarassment or groan with…regret.
Regret over things I have done or said. Mistakes, missteps, miscues.
I think my mistakes are devastating.
Listening to a conference I attended a number of years back, the speaker instructed extroverts to write some phrases on a post it note to keep with us during meetings:
I was wrong. I made a mistake. I dropped the ball. I’m sorry.
As I listened to this talk for what must be the eighth time, it dawned on me…
She assumes I will be wrong, I will make a mistake, I will drop the ball. And yet I will still be there to say I’m sorry. She knows I will blow it. She expects I will. And it isn’t game ending.
I always thought mistakes were game ending. I have believed that mistakes were something to be deeply ashamed of, something from which you don’t really recover.
Yet this speaker was moving on as though mistakes did not bring the world to a screeching halt. As though they were something you point out as you go along. Yeah, there’s a mistake, I’m sorry, and we’re walking…
Is this possible? Can mistakes be simply, mistakes, and not the crippling events I believe them to be?
Can I ditch Regret and it’s unwelcome version of This is Your (messed up) Life?
As I prepare to relinquish 50, as time walks on, I wonder…