Cashiering is detailed work – there are so many ways to make little (and larger) mistakes. When I am up, I roll with these mistakes: I make fewer of them because my brain is sharper, but I am also a lot more forgiving of those mistakes that I do make. When I’m down, I tend to be pretty hard on myself about even little mistakes – and positively cruel to myself about the larger ones.
I thought of a variety of ways to attack this issue in a post, but none of them seem better than the poem I wrote during this same dark time of year about four years ago. It’s longer than most of my posts, but lots of people have found it meaningful. I’d welcome your feedback – in a comment or an email (to email@example.com).
I BELIEVE IN MISTAKES (Majo, 1/15/11)
I believe in mistakes
I believe in right and wrong
Good and evil
Sin and redemption
Well I’m sure about sin at least
I believe it’s possible
To make a wrong choice
Take a wrong turn
And to forever lose
All option for good
That the right road would have held
I believe it’s possible for these wrong choices
To lead you to a wrong life
To become a wrong person
With no chance to get back to
The person you were meant to be
Why am I so imprisoned by this wretched
View of the world?
Why do I cling so to beliefs
About life and about myself
That cause so much suffering?
Why am I so attached to
This harsh god of right and wrong?
Why is this unforgiving code
Carved so deeply and painfully into my heart?
Is it my Libra nature
Constantly balancing and rebalancing the scales
Desperately and hopelessly trying to get things to come out right?
I so often know immediately
That I have taken the wrong path
Committed to the wrong course of action
Ordered the wrong lunch
And am so seldom confident
That I am going the right way
Is it because the good nuns
So patiently and persistently
Drilled original sin into my young consciousness?
Is it my Irish conscience
So hopeless about becoming a genuinely good man?
It believes that carrying
A heavy load of guilt
Is the most reliable way to
Earn God’s mercy.
Is it my western analytical mind
So hooked on separating
On putting things in different buckets
Hooked on the world of either/or?
Is it my human ego
So tiny in the face of
The vast world out there
So lost in fear and alienation?
I would like to say that my belief in mistakes
Is my one true mistake
But I think that would be a mistake
Tortured as this paradigm is
It is my lineage
It unites me with the human species
From which I spring
My suffering is your suffering
Is our suffering
Until we can together
Every one of us
Lay this burden down
You may have gleaned by now
How hard it is to step outside
Of this world of mistakes
Indeed, from our shared starting point,
It is impossible
It is anathema to our human programming
A contradiction in terms
It is a world that can only be visited
When we take a brief vacation
From our normal minds
It’s the payoff from meditation
The addictiveness of drugs
The bottom line of love
In the throes of love
Does our lover or child not seem perfect
Able to do no wrong?
(How ephemeral are these throes of love)
Is it not clear, when we are truly in love
That there can be no mistake
In committing fully to the beloved
No matter how great the cost?
How can I turn this kind of love on myself?
Commit this fully to me?
My path the last few days
Is clearly littered with mistakes
Today I wrote a poem
Who wrote the poem?
Who made the mistakes?
Could I have had this
Without the others?
Did they not get me here?
Maybe my commitment to a me that does
Is the deepest mistake
Steps were taken that led me here, led me there
Led me to this poem
Led me to this room
Led me to you
You get to decide whether for
You this poem is right or wrong
But if you are wise you will maybe not