Sunday, 12 February 2017


Friendships are formed around fault lines. Relationships emerge from ravines of failure and vulnerability. When someone first shares their worries or fears with you, they are throwing a line over the chasm. 

You catch it, and then by revealing your personal frailty or feeling of guilt, you throw another back. Together you may then build a bridge, a friendship, and the canyon below will fill with mutual trust and empathy.

It’s all a bit of an eggshell dance, this trading of confidences. We could be more open and direct with each other, but this is the way life works. Given that we know exchanging our mistakes makes us appear less threatening and more likeable, why then do we fear being wrong?

If such an important part of our lives is governed by the understanding that we all make mistakes, why are we so eager to prove, to ourselves and the universe, that we don’t screw up?

We do experience joy: random and often fleeting moments when the soul lights up and everything makes sense, but for most of our lives we’re trying not to make mistakes, as we struggle with problems financial, physical or mental.

Human life is a messy plate of spag bol, so why would we waste a moment hoping that everything will go perfectly? I’ve made so many mistakes in my life I’ve learned to appreciate them. 

Equally important as social tools for forming friendships, mistakes are the way we learn, if we want to. When everything is going zippetty dippetty, you’re thinking in a two dimensional linear way about being blissed out. You learn only what that feels like.

Yippee! I am happy! This is fantastic! Long may it last!
Oh pooper, life’s a bitch.

Up against it, we are forced to employ our imaginations and physical beings to get out of whatever mire we’ve dumped ourselves in.

After climbing out, you’re silly not to then stand back, catch your breath and work out what the hell just happened. How did you let yourself get into that mess?

Mistakes are benefits, but sadly many choose to feel regret, which serves no purpose.

Why would I cast a shadow over my present life with my past? I was eager, chomping at the bit to do it at the time. I remember now how passionately I felt back then, so why be down on myself about it now?

Things may not have gone well, but I will have learned from it. To dwell on what life might’ve been like had I not done it is as pointless as regretting doing it.

Whatever you’ve done wrong, understand it and move on. Regret and evasion are not the way to enjoy our brief strut on this stage.

In the last 12 months I’ve had to admit (to myself as well as you) that many of my political pontifications have been wrong. I was wrong about not bombing Assad’s forces in Syria. I was wrong about Jeremy Corbyn and I was wrong about Trump.

My mistakes were utterly harmless, in that I’m sure my opinions in no way affected you, but by having seen things so erroneously, I now understand a bigger picture.

Just as with friendships, so it is in the workplace, where respect relies on the same rules.

Anyone who has worked for somebody who refused to admit they were ever wrong will wholly understand. Frustrating beyond belief, these weak leaders and managers just don’t bloomin’ comprehend that strength comes from the confidence to show weakness.

By apologising to your staff and admitting that it’s your fault, you are impressing and motivating your workers. At the same time you’re earning their respect, by showing yourself strong enough to lead whilst being fully human.

Trouble is, most of life exists in the grey area between right and wrong. 

Reading the paper the other day I saw that Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California - how does he fit that on a business card? - is taking stem cells from adult humans and introducing them to early stage pig embryos, with the aim of growing an animal that is wholly pig, save for human organs inside it, ready for transplant patients.

Even though I’m a massive fan of stem cell surgery, there’s something about this that doesn’t feel right. It sounds dangerously like a sci-fi horror film, in which somewhere in the future there’s a colony of wild chimera beasts roaming free, with too much human in them to become bacon, but too much pig to share human rights.

No thank you. Enough with the wrong and the mistakes. I’m human and base and need some right stuff right now.

Quickly turning the pages of the newspaper, I find to my delight something fabulous and lovely.

Both residents of the same nursing home, Joan Neininger is to marry Ken Selway. Steven Morris of The Guardian explains that the couple, now in their 80s, met soon after the Second World War, when Joan noticed Ken rifling through bins near her shop.

Homeless Ken refused her money, so she started to leave sandwiches out for him. A life-long friendship ensued.

“Although he was living on the streets, I knew straight away that Ken was a lovely man with a beautiful soul.” Joan said of her fiancĂ©.

Thanks so much Joan.

Being wrong, knowing it and admitting it are important, yet it’s vital to acknowledge that sometimes we are simply and wholly good.

©Charlie Adley

No comments: