Howling Into the Wind: Mistakes

What if, what if you find you made a mistake
What if, what if it’s worth the chance
That you’re taking

I would never want to see you standing
In the line of fire
You’re the one who has to come to grips
With your own desires

Tommy Shaw, “Remo’sTheme (What If?)

That’s a portion of the lyrics of “Remo’s Theme (What If” by Tommy Shaw from the soundtrack of the Gods-awful 1985 film “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.” Great song. Gods awful, horrible film. Tommy also features the song on his album “What If”. But this post is not about that awful film or even the song. This little snippet of the lyrics from the song provides a question that we all encounter within our lives: what if we make a mistake?

Seriously, if I had a dollar for every time I made a mistake, I would be rich beyond my wildest dreams. I would. Most definitely. If I made each of those mistakes weigh a single pound, and then had those mistakes piled on top of me – I would be crushed to death by the sheer weight. You get the picture though: I’ve made quite a few mistakes in my life.

My Spiritual life starts down the road of the Methodist belief system – the beliefs of my parents. But my parents were never serious about their religious beliefs. The Methodist past probably seemed to be the quiet and “safe” path for them. I can’t say for sure. Both of my parents passed beyond the veil a few years back, and throughout my entire life up to the point of their passing, we never discussed Spiritual faith. However, my parents seemed to be enamored with the education style of the Catholic faith and enrolled me and my sister into Catholic schools when we came back to the States from Germany. In Catholic schools, religious education is a requirement for all students. Thus, I was educated in the concepts and beliefs of the Catholic faith. I listened in class. I assimilated the concepts, terminology, procedures, and the such. Fuck, I wanted a good grade. Not that I was a stellar student. I graduated next to last in my high school class. With some of the highest ACT and SAT scores in the class. To tell the honest truth, high school was boring. When I graduated, I looked for a new Spiritual path.

My first stop was the Southern Baptists. Definitely not a good fit from the word “go”. I was viewed as “dangerous” by most of the parents, simply because I asked questions. Starting at this location was a mistake. A mistake that I had to alter when I joined the Air Force. In Basic Training, at our first Chapel service, I filtered myself into a group of trainees that were atheists and agnostics. During chapel service, we were always asked to sit quietly at the back of the chapel and left alone. This choice was another mistake. I had beliefs that there were things out there that were far more powerful than human beings could ever imagine. I just had no words to describe or define what I believed. When I was sent to my first duty station – Carswell Air Force base in Fort Worth, Texas – I stumbled into a Wiccan Priestess, who helped me to understand what Paganism was. I finally had words for what I believed. My first footsteps on my Pagan path began. I would make a few steps along the way with that as well.

When I made mistakes in finding my own Spiritual Path, I backed up, reset my thinking, and chose a different Path. I have often wondered how different I would be if I had just stopped and given up instead. All the people I likely would not have encountered over my thirty-plus years on this Spiritual Path. All the life-long extended family that I have in my life that wouldn’t be there because I had just given up. On top of that, I look back at all the mistakes I have made in my professional life. All the miscalculated results, all the incorrect equipment adjustments. Then there are the mistakes I have made in my own personal life. Trusting the wrong people to have the best intentions towards me. How different would I be if I had not made those mistakes? What if I had just given up and not bothered to try again and again?

Our choices define who we are. Our choices aim us to new experiences that are further down the road. Our mistakes provide experiences that we can learn directly from, just as our successes can do the same. Certainly, I am not proud of all my mistakes. But I made them. I’ve gotten mad at myself for some of my mistakes. Eventually, I got over that anger, picked myself up, dusted myself off, and moved on. Because I believe life is worth living. I believe that the experiences coming are worth continuing for. Good or bad. Life, for me, is about experiences. My Druidry is experiential.

I could have done so many things, baby
If I could only stop my mind
From wonderin’ what I left behind
And from worrying ’bout this wasted time

Eagles, “Wasted Time”

Sitting here looking back, the lyrics to the Eagles song “Wasted Time” come to mind. I can’t change the Past. Playing the “what if” game can be a fruitless pastime. But is it really? My observation of looking back to the choices that we have made is that it is a lot like a project post-mortem. In the Information Technology world, these autopsies look for what practices worked well, and which resulted in bottlenecks that stifled appropriate progress. There’s nothing that you can do for what has already happened. However, you can alter what you do in the future to avoid making the same mistakes. At least that’s the theory, right?

The real point in all of this? Allow yourself to make mistakes. Even the catastrophic ones. So long as no one dies, everything will be alright. Those big mistakes will hurt. They will hurt deeper than you realize. But the experiences is necessary. You won’t get anything from it at first…except for pain, and your self-esteem becoming a hardcore casualty of the process. The pain will lessen over time. Your self-esteem will be built back over time. And those tears? They are a part of the process too. Need a hug? Need someone to comfort you? I can do that for you. I can dry the tears and bring you a wet washcloth to clean your face. I can wrap my arms arounds you and hold you close. Because I’ve been there too. And far more recently than you may realize. I make mistakes too. I’ve been lucky enough to have people who have been there to comfort me, hold me, wipe away my tears, and assure me that everything will be ok…in time. And looking back…its not wasted time. But it’s a moment that needs to stay in the past. Remember, there are numerous new experiences coming. You want those. Good and bad. Because life moves forward. Come on. I’ll walk beside you along the way. I’ll hold your hand if you want me to. We can do it together.

Remember, its not about the mistakes we make. Its about how we bounce back from those mistakes that matters more. Mistkaes are learning experiences, not mortal wounds.

–Tommy /|\

Photo by Jasmine Carter on

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