I make a lot of misstakes, don’t you?
For example. This morning. Item #1 for consideration: I pulled up to the Camp Coffee drive-through old vintage camper in town and ordered a cappuccino. Small, please. Thank you kindly.
The sweet young barista smiled and asked for $3.50. Please and thank you. I reached out with a fiver and–oh heavens above–my car was too far from her outstretched hand. We juggled and shifted but the car was just too far away. I finally thrust the money toward her and she dropped the change into my waiting hand but we were miles apart. The quarter dropped down below. She begged me to forget it. She would give another quarter to the errant driver. But I dove down below on the pavement and fished for the quarter and held it aloft, triumphant!
When she delivered the cappuccino we were more prepared. Got out of the car and maneuvered toward the coffee. We succeeded in the exchange with nary a drop of foamy coffee drenching the car. Only a minor misstake!
Item #2 for consideration: Ten days ago we drove my mom downstate to my brother’s camp north of Gaylord. I had an appointment in the city of Marquette along the way. We have one of those new-fangled cars where you don’t actually insert the key in the ignition. You push a Start button with foot on brake and the car springs to life and drives toward your intended destination. You do need a handy key, though, or it won’t work.
Barry and my mom wanted to tour the city whilst I paused for the appointment. Off they drove. I settled into the waiting room with a smile when–OH NO! Oh no, oh no, oh no!
I still had the keys in my purse. If they turned off the car they would be stranded. The car would not start again without the happy little keys.
Heart racing, I dialed my mom’s cell: Have you turned off the car yet? No? DO NOT TURN OFF THE CAR! I wheezed.
She assured me they wouldn’t turn off the car and I headed into said appointment. But my heart wouldn’t stop pounding. My mind insisted they would somehow pause at a stoplight (the car turns off automatically at stops like these) and then they would be stranded, surrounded by a hundred honking horns. Surely they would die. I would die. The planet would implode. (I am rolling my eyes at these over-dramatics, dear reader, but some of you may know how this goes. It may have been a misstake to tell you about my over-reaction.)
My stomach clenched, I felt ill, the entire nervous system over-reacted as if I was being charged by a lion in the Sahara Desert.
Dear reader, they were fine. They laughed at silly Kathy and drove around Marquette without stalling. They joked and toured Presque Isle and drove by the Dome and even stopped at the co-op without anything going wrong.
A misstake of epic proportions, if you ask my charged-up nervous system.
I could actually spend the next half hour typing misstake stories.
But what I want to say is this: Dear nervous system (and the nervous systems of all my readers)–a misstake really isn’t as big of a deal as we may imagine.
Lately I am learning to think of misstakes as opportunities. Not biggies. Just chances to try again. It’s like this. Take One. And if we don’t succeed–Take Two. And then Take Three. We probably won’t die from doing something wrong.
Item #3 for consideration. When we were in our 20’s we decided to leave the North Woods and travel to Texas and make our fortune. It’s a long story that involves lots of adventure. We returned to the Upper Peninsula within four short months. Some people might say we made a big misstake to move down thattaway, but it proved to be an amazing adventure that still makes us smile ear-to-ear. It is one of the highlights of our life that we still prattle on about.
There are golden lessons hidden in many of our misstakes. I want to say ALL of our misstakes, but I think that might be a misstake to make such a bold statement–because sometimes misstakes really do hurt a lot. Sometimes misstakes can be deadly and dangerous and just plain crummy.
But when I look back at the thousand or millions misstakes I made in my life–I can almost always feel some gratitude for the lessons learned. For the gifts wrapped in oops. For the way the misstake turned life in a new direction. For the way it brought new opportunities.
Sometimes the lesson is: oh, I could have handled the situation in a much more loving way. Or that’s not where I want to put my energy next time. Sometimes the lesson is how to love and forgive myself and others for acting in less-than-stellar ways. We’re often doing the best we can from our limited points of view.
This morning I learned that next time I want to pull closer to the coffee camper. And, darn it–remember to share the keys before exiting the car! Maybe we shouldn’t move to Texas again in this lifetime. And, dear nervous system, next time we’re going to do some soothing and deep-breathing before you decide the planet’s imploding.
I would love to hear some more misstake stories, and the gifts you learned from your oh-so-human foibles. ❤