I’ve had quite the 6 weeks. Somebody somewhere posted the old story on Facebook about my resignation from MIT in 2007 as if it happened yesterday and many people chose to write to me with great emotion about that. I got snarky tweets referencing me, hate mail from FB people I don’t even know, fan mail from FB people I don’t even know, and lots of phone calls from people I do know sending their love and admiration to buffer the vitriol. This went on for several days around my birthday and I was struck by two things: how easy it is to manipulate crowds and how mistakes from the past are never allowed to be over, both compliments of social media.
Perhaps you are a more perfect version of me, but I’m guessing you’ve done a few things in your day that you wouldn’t want the world to know about, much less find exposed on the front page of the NYT. As awful as my 15 minutes of fame was, it fulfilled its purpose of deepening my humanity, not by breaking me but by breaking me open in compassion instead. When I do read the Times now and see the public scourging of others, my heart goes out to them and I send them a whole legion of angels to protect and carry them through. No one knows the hell they are living.
It bears remembering that we human beings are designed to make mistakes. And because of this, we all deserve salvation. Period.
Moreover, consider the possibility that we Homo Sapiens were actually designed to create through mistakes, that our best creativity comes from our screw-ups. Now that’s a mind-bender. So once a mistake serves its purpose, it’s done and finished, water under the bridge. Sorta like #36 of the 449 times we stood and fell trying to walk as toddlers. Why remember that forever with shame when the fall was actually building neurons for balance so we could walk upright for the rest of our lives?
I’m choosing to let my mistakes serve their purpose. I’m writing another book.
If you are someone wont to throw a dart at someone you don’t know because you don’t like what you think they did, hold your fire and ask yourself this question instead: “What part of me does this thing I hate and wish to see punished in the other? ” How about you forgive that part and pay attention to how it’s actually trying to serve you?
In this Era of the Cyborg, let’s go all counter-culture and experience the pure pleasure of being imperfect for a change.
And then let’s get about the business of creating our lives for real.