Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Missing the Boat and Other Screw Ups

Sometimes a little screw up can have major ramifications. I narrowly missed one today. I was about to board the Coho ferry to go to Victoria, B.C with my brother-in-law, Charles. I had gone to Canada a couple weeks ago with my spouse CB and I knew the process. As Charles and I started to make our way down the line to board I pulled out my passport and looked at my passport photo.. Oops.

That wasn’t my unsmiling face, it was CB’s. We got out of line and hoofed it back to the house in Port Angeles, WA.

The problem wasn’t horrific. The ferry tickets will be good tomorrow and we’ll try again. However, had I not noticed the situation, I’m sure Homeland Security would have had a few questions for me. CB and I aren’t exactly identical twins, but we are close enough in height, weight, age and general appearance that it might have looked like I was trying to pull off a fast one. Plus, I reported my passport was stolen last year (another error) so I’m probably in some data base somewhere.

I may have messed up, but I’m not alone. When I went online to read the news I noticed some skydivers were blown off course and landed in a high security submarine base. Talk about dropping in at the wrong place at the wrong time. Or as I’m sure as Ricky Ricardo would’ve said to his wayward spouse, “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do.”
Speaking of Lucy from the famed “I Love Lucy” show, she was a character I got a kick out of. I identified with her desire to be in show business, her crazy knack for getting into embarrassing situations and her spunk. Lucy was always in some sort of trouble and her antics always made us laugh.

I don’t court mishaps and danger, but I have had more than my fair share of blunders. Most of these errors are minor. I’ve walked around with an article of clothing inside out, worn mismatched shoes and walked out of public restrooms trailing toilet paper from my shoe. My navigational sense is severely challenged and I almost never get to my destination without making at least one wrong turn. Needless to say, I am a type B personality with no delusion of perfection. Fortunately I’m not in a profession, like medicine, where mistakes can have deadly consequences. Embarrassing yes (like the time I typed a letter to school principals asking for help for our Parks and Farts Foundation.) But no one dies when I misspell a word or let a participle dangle inappropriately.

I don’t want to appear that I don’t give a hoot and do a careless job in my undertakings. However, I know I’m human and slip ups are a part of life. In fact, I have learned a whole lot more from my gaffes than my successes. Not only have my screw ups resulted in a multitude of valuable lessons, they often become fodder for my comedy writing.

I guess that is why so many of us loved Lucy. I admired June Cleaver’s finesse at vacuuming in heels and pearls. I’m sure Ozzie (Nelson not Osbourne) made it through his long career without having to bail Harriet out of jail or rehab, but how exciting is that?

The point of this whole thing is life is too short to engage in self abuse over our mistakes. We can’t stop the negativity others throw in our direction, but we can stop beating ourselves up. When we make an error in judgment we should recognize it, make a plan to prevent it from happening again, and in time, laugh about it.

A good first step is toward living a happier life is to curtail all critical self talk. Self negativity puts a grinding halt to success and happiness. Every time you say a disparaging remark about yourself your subconscious soaks it up like a sponge. Your brain cannot distinguish between self ridicule and an offhand “I was just kidding” remark. Whatever you say or think, the brain just takes it in. It’s a big “yes” machine. If you say, “I’m stupid,” it writes the “Yes, I’m stupid, program.” If you declare, “I will never be happy,” the message becomes fact and you will never be happy. The irony is that it isn’t your enemies who fling the majority of these toxic statements about. You do it to yourself.
If you had a magic genie that would give you what you want, what would you wish for? Would your wish be a bad marriage, constant pain and a cruel boss? Of course not! Then why give those messages to yourself?

Your wishes, good, bad or indifferent, become your brain’s programming. So why not try for something that will bring you joy? That does not mean that everything wonderful you wish for will instantly become reality. But if you surround yourself with positive thoughts and begin a course of action to achieve the things you want in life, you will move your life in a happier direction.

Disparaging thoughts can spread like a cancer and slip into your speech, and eventually manifest in unproductive and harmful actions. Many individuals, especially those who have suffered a loss, are largely unaware of how negative they have become. It is a habit. And habits, if not changed, become a way of life.

I had thought about ending this article with a cool quote from Confucius, but I’ve used it before. So instead I’ll just encourage you to learn and laugh at your mistakes and stop all that self-flagellation. And if by chance your mistake results in missing the proverbial boat, never fear. You can join me on a future ferry ride tomorrow, eh?

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