I’m wrong about something or other on nearly a daily basis. I don’t mind that. In fact, I kind of enjoy it. It gives me a chance to think about what I did and what I would do differently. It’s a good thought challenge, and I welcome the opportunity to think through those things.
Usually, though, I’m the one to catch my mistake, and it often doesn’t affect the people around me too much. It’s a much different experience to be called out on something, and to then recognize you’re in the wrong. It provides another way to grow, as you navigate through not only what you did wrong, but also how to work through that with someone else.
I don’t regret mistakes because they help me to learn. To grow. What I do regret, though, is the effect my mistake or my wrong might have on someone else. I don’t want to hurt those around me from my ignorance or error. I want to make life for the people in my life better, instead of adding to a burden. In this particular case, the person who called me out did so in a mature and direct way, and wasn’t terribly affected by it (I think). But it was a good lesson learned and a solid reminder for me of a few things:
That actions can be perceived differently by the acting and the acted upon. That’s not to say that we should allow what we anticipate people may think to dictate our actions. But at the same time, human life isn’t siloed, and our actions do affect others, for better or for worse. It is important to recognize the impact our actions or words may have on others, and to use that as one of many factors that guides our decisions.
That though we are unique individuals, we live in community together. Viktor Frankl says that to be human means our lives always point to something, or someone, other than ourselves. The more we forget ourselves, either through a cause to serve or through loving another person, the more we are human and the more we actualize ourselves and attain our true humanity. The irony here is that we can’t strive for this in itself; otherwise, we are working towards *our* own goal. Instead, it happens as a byproduct of the way we choose to live our lives.
That each moment presents an opportunity, and it is up to each of us to define what that moment may become. Frankl also says that the meaning of life differs not only from man to man, but moment to moment. Thus, this idea of “the meaning of life” is almost irrelevant, as what matters is the specific meaning of someone’s life at a particular moment. At every particular moment. This day is not just one more day, indistinguishable from all the others. Rather, this day, regardless of our situation, provides us with opportunities to love. To serve. To suffer. To be present with someone. These moments are fleeting, often hidden, and can never be retrieved once they pass. How we choose to encounter them makes a difference.
Life is beautiful. People are complicated. Conversations can be difficult. Relationships are messy. Suffering is a reality. All this is true. But the more important truth is that we always have a choice. We choose how to act, how to speak, how to react, and what meaning to imbue on it all. It’s that very agency that gives us the power to change things, whether it be a conversation, relationship, or the world. The tricky part is that it’s up to us to make the choice and decide just what we want that change to look like.