The very idea of a wrong or a right choice is polarizing. No matter what decision we make, we may end up pining for aspects of the life we declined even as we celebrate the many advantages of having moved on.
You’ve lived a lifetime of decisions. And sometimes when you feel you made a mistake, you have.
A Mistake is a Marvelous Thing
In my twenties, enchanted by a picture in a popular home decor magazine of a dark green hallway in a Los Angeles residence, I asked my husband to paint the stairway to the basement of our Ohio rental the exact shade of fir-tree green.
As the painting progressed, I often peeked down the stairway ever hoping the dried paint might transform into a magnificent color -more like the green in the magazine picture would be fine. Soon enough reality deemed my decision “dreadful.”
Acknowledging my mistake (I groveled), I ask for a repaint only to be met with a common response in that marriage for decisions gone awry. “Too bad,” he said. “You’ll have to live with it.” And I did.
Twenty years later on a sailing trip in Tonga, I pointed on the chart to a hole of water surrounded by land and explained to my next husband (second, and final so far) how exciting it could be to explore this doughnut-like island.
The next day, we hovered at the entrance pounded with strong Pacific currents and questioned whether to negotiate the intimidating, narrow entrance lined with rocks on either side and only good for the depth of our boat at high tide.
Suddenly a strong wave lifted the 42-foot sailboat up and slid us into the anchorage. One of our most hairy experiences ever; we cheered once inside as our knees shook.
As we looked for a spot to anchor, I decided I didn’t being there after all – too remote and a spooky looking village to boot. I wanted out. “Too bad,” the second husband said. “You’ll have to stay until the tide comes in tomorrow morning.” And I did, not happily mind you.
I can tell many more stories of worse mistakes I had to live with– serious ones with lasting consequences – that sometimes meant money was scarce and I couldn’t afford to buy the Easter dress I wanted for my daughter.
But some of those mistakes with unpleasant consequences were necessary to get me where I am today.
If You Are Making Mistakes You are Doing Something
Don’t get me wrong. The aftermath of a bad decision can last forever. Most times, however, we’ve learned something we needed to learn or we’ve managed to find new ways to be resourceful about our errors.
Luckily with age I improved in confidence and pluck. At 60 will I live with a yukky green hallway I hate? Hell no. Not one more day than I must.
Still, decision making never ends.
Age does not improve our ability to navigate choices. In whatever situation life puts us in and at any age, moving ahead with what you know at the time is not just trying your best – it is your best.
You make decisions with self-awareness and the information you have. You gain some things; you lose others.
Sometimes you make mistakes or find yourself stuck for a while.
No one does any better than this.