Vignettes on Aging – Mistakes

As the wildfire grew closer to the city limits, it became obvious that, unless the winds shifted, we’d be required to evacuate in the days that followed. This fact shoved me out of complacency and into the dealership to purchase a van that I simply outfitted to transport me and my cat to safety if the order to clear out came. I bought the van new for a lot of money, which I confirmed was a smart idea when we were indeed required to evacuate 48 hours after the purchase.

I spent the first night with my cat in the van, that I’d outfitted with a bunch of necessities including a foam pad, a cat box, and a restroom of sorts for me. I slept little and was generally miserable. At one point I thought, a 73-year-old woman should not be peeing in a van, regardless of what kind of set up I had. Five days later, when all was clear fire-wise, I put my house on the market, arranged to move into an independent living complex, and sold the van for a $14,000 loss. It was a huge mistake to purchase the van, an expensive lesson for me to learn.

Talking about making mistakes is easy. We can postulate and theorize about the value of making mistakes, but the hardcore truth is that making them can be painful, especially if they’re huge, like mine.

It’s true that one of the good things about making mistakes is that doing so shows you’re alive, you’re human, you’re not a robot. Making a mistake is a way of trying out new things and finding out what works and what doesn’t. Yes, it’s also true that making mistakes can help us face our fears. Personally, I don’t need more facing my fears in my life. My life isn’t so calm or boring that I need to jump at any chance to expose my foibles by risking more mistakes.

Having said all that, I must look to see if there is anything I’m NOT doing because I fear goofing it up or falling on my face.

Is my fear of making a mistake holding me back? If I don’t try something new or if I settle for less rather than risk a mistake, the answer is yes. What am I so afraid of that staying put and stagnant is a better choice? Especially at this point in life? What do I care if I fall or if I mess up — especially if it’s not something major that would be truly harmful to myself or another? As I’ve aged, I’ve become kinder, more compassionate with myself and with others. If you mess up, I’m there to comfort you, not LOL … well, unless it’s something truly silly and you’re laughing too.

Seriously, think about a mistake you’ve made recently. What happened? Did you learn something about yourself? Did making it change your future behavior? Did you have to make the same mistake multiple times before you ‘got’ it? I dare you to share it here.