So we have Mindfulness Monday, The Sunday Roundup and, now, I Was Wrong Wednesday.
This new weekly feature will explore all the things I have been wrong about in my life, despite strong confidence that I was absolutely, unequivocally right.
These days, I work from the belief that I am wrong about a lot of things, but that I just don’t know what they are yet.
I look at the ways I’ve changed over the past two years alone, and assume that I will be embarrassed about some of the things I believe now.
At least I hope I will.
I don’t want to get entrenched in my beliefs to the point I cannot see outside of them.
I think that, for much of my life, I have been combative to point of being controlled by others’ opinions because I did not consider my own opinion, I just wanted to be in opposition to everyone else. I always resisted being controlled, being told what to do, being told there was a path in life.
I resisted anything that indicated I might not have total freedom and total control in which to make terrible choices and screw everything up.
This is funny, because I find a lot of use and even security in the notion of fate these days. I like the idea of those Gods in Asgard, knowing they have this horrific fight coming and that they will die. I like that instead of struggling against it or whining and complaining about it, they embrace it. They run headlong into it, meeting their fate with indifference at worst.
The notion of fate infuses almost every earlier culture, maybe because they were not operating under the illusion of control that our technology has given us.
The Stoics described us as a dog tied to a cart. We may have some degree of leeway, but we are going where that cart is going. Every one of us has these things that happen to us in life that provide advantages and disadvantages, and we all have a ceiling placed on us in one way or another. We can do things to expand our capabilities and things to expand our disadvantages, but there is a limit to what we can accomplish in a lifetime. I know this isn’t a popular idea anymore, but I also wonder if we do a disservice to people by telling them they can be and do anything instead of encouraging them to follow their natural path and play to their strengths.
This isn’t about resignation or not living up to our potential though, it’s about embracing our path and doing the best we can with it, giving it our full attention instead of being distracted and pulled astray by all the “what ifs” and the envy of looking at what other people have.
I was so focused on bucking everything and everyone when I was younger, and then showing I was smarter and had it all figured out when I was older, that I missed opportunities to accept things as they were and to make something out of what was given. Instead of building something solid with the materials I had, I built unstable and ultimately useless things with what I thought I wanted.
We can view the things we are given as limitations, or we can see them as a blueprint for the best path we have. We will all have things happen to us we don’t like, have to deal with things that aren’t ”fair” and, as we have discussed before, will die at some point.
We can uselessly struggle against these things, or we can save our energy for things we can control. There is no value in swimming upstream for the sake of swimming upstream.
We may be dogs tied to carts, but our decisions determine the length of the leash.