Human beings make mistakes. I believe it is in our nature to err. And the day we stop making mistakes, we stop being truly human.
If you believe in the theory of evolution, then you might say that it’s the inherent nature of man to err so that he can grow by learning from such errors. This is basically evolution. Trial-and-error. One grows or evolves by learning from one’s (as well as others’) mistakes and not repeating them.
If you’re more partial to creationism or intelligent design theory then maybe you believe that man errs because he was created not to be perfect. In fact to suggest he was ever so might elevate him beyond his station. For would God not be the only one with a right to that handle? God created man in his image, in his likeness, but not necessarily exactly in his mould.
But this is not a theological inquisition as much as it is a philosophical questioning. If it is in man’s innate nature to err; if we are truly meant to be flawed, then why do we punish ourselves for being so? Why do we torture ourselves attempting to reach some sort of state of perfection? We starve ourselves to look like models who put forward near unattainable standards of “beauty”, because then we will be perfect. We push our children to excel in every facet of their lives – Get the best grades! Go to the best College/University, because then you’ll be perfect. We sacrifice our dreams and happiness to get jobs where we can make the most money, because then we’ll be perfect. And when life is perfect – when we have everything we could ever want to buy, when we have the trophy wife, when we have the brilliant and athletic kids who play a dozen instruments, then we’ll be happy. So is it any wonder that so many of us seem to have forgotten how to be happy, if we ever even knew how. We chase perfection, only to find it lacking when we get it. That’s why middle-aged men with beautiful wives and adorable children sleep with any young girl that’ll take her panties off for a couple of drinks. That’s why men kill themselves and alienate their families working ungodly hours, to make more money and buy more things, none of which are ever enough.
I know this all sounds rather cynical for someone who is only 25. Truth be told, maybe I’m full of crap; maybe I’ve got it all wrong. I pray every day that it is so. But sometimes, when I find my mind wondering about the future and about decisions past, I wonder if I’m on the right track. I wonder how many of the things I believe about life, love, marriage, family – really are as they should be. How far is my judgment warped by an excessive exposure to the media; how much is it clouded by having my head in the sand and not asking questions; am I living in a bubble that will one day pop in a brilliant explosion that will blow my world right off its axis?
But at the end of the day, if all these things were true, the real question is, could I learn from such mistakes? Is it ever too late to start afresh? Well if you believe the movies, you always have time to start anew. But real life isn’t all that simple. Real life doesn’t have neat montages with popular pop-songs that make it all better. Real life gets complicated. And sometimes you get stuck.
I have made many mistakes in my life. Most I have walked away from relatively unscathed. Others I know will fade in memory as the years pass. But some I cannot smile and brush away as easily. I would like to think that I have learnt from them though. But as much as I know that I can take something away from these mistakes, I also know that there is no redeeming them; no making it better. They say time heals all wounds; perhaps it does. But sometimes you come through unscathed, other times you have a scar that reminds you of that wound. And no matter how well you may know not to do it again, that scar remains.
But despite all my anxieties over past errors, despite all my anguish over lost battles and bridges burnt, I would not change any but a very minor few events in my life. Yes sometimes life has been really sh*t. Yes sometimes I have felt a fool. Yes I have been hurt and I have hurt others. But all that has brought me to here and now. And it has taken me a long time and very slowly getting over one of the greatest mistakes that I believe I will ever make in my life to realize that I actually like who I am, here and now. This is not something I have always been able to say, and yes sometimes I doubt the veracity of that statement, but I do deep down believe it to be true. Maybe I can never make some things right; maybe I can never go back to the way certain things were, but I can try to remember what it was that I really wanted so that the next time I actually find it, I can know to go for it.
Yes to err is human. And I am human. And I have learned to forgive myself for that. And that is a feeling most divine.