Screw-ups: the school of life’s most successful teacher

I’ve been working hard over the years to cultivate a state of being that sweats the small stuff less.  I’ve been more successful than I dared hope, but just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, a curve ball reminds me there’s always more work to do.

I’ve just returned from a week’s blissful break in the countryside with my family.  I was chilled to the max, but sometimes it’s like there’s a security guard hiding out in the recesses of my mind, and when things are going good he gets a bit twitchy, looking out for the trouble that must be coming my way.

It came in the form of a package addressed to me.  I opened it to find a box with an image of a high-end fishing reel.  My husband often orders things from my account, so I just assumed he’d decided to take up fishing.  Random, but not beyond the realm of possibility.

When he said it was nothing to do with him, we assumed maybe my father-in-law had ordered the reel and was planning on visiting us to catch some big ‘uns.    A quick text revealed that wasn’t the case either. 

Next stop: google.  Likely scenario: fraud.  One of my cards or accounts was used to order the reel, but the hapless crook neglected to change the delivery address and it wound up here (or should that be reeled up).  I scoured my bank statement and online accounts, but nothing was amiss. 

What now?  Scooby-doo has nothing on me when there’s a mystery to be solved.  Here was a parcel I didn’t order with my name and my address on it; there had to be a reason!  My security guard had his torch in hand and he was on the prowl. 

The reel was an expensive brand, there was no supporting paperwork.  What kind of nefarious scam was this?  How did they get my name?  What were they after?    

But there was no answer.  So, I did what years ago I would not have been able to do:  I let it go.  I watched some TV, then went to bed. 

In the past, I would have put the dog in dogmatic.  I would’ve clamped my jaws around this mystery and chewed on it all night, assuming the worst and letting fear run away with me, leading to rash actions,(like cancelling all my cards and accounts, just to be safe), and a sleepless night. 

As it was, I was able to let go of my concerns and trust that it would sort itself out. And it did, the very next morning during my meditation. As I sat in the quiet company of my mantra, the answer popped into my head:

Doorknobs.

I know what you’re thinking, it’s not as mind blowing as the number 42, but with great clarity I suddenly knew: doorknobs!

I opened the fishing reel box (something I hadn’t done before because I had assumed the contents were as described on the proverbial tin) to find Yoda, Darth Vader and the rest of the Star Wars crew staring back at me from eight beautifully hand-crafted doorknobs I’d ordered for my son’s bedroom.

Just like that, my reality shifted. Gone were the nefarious schemes to steal my identity, replaced with the truth: I had ordered the contents of the package before going on holiday, and it wasn’t a fishing reel.

The school of life will teach us the lessons we need to learn (repeatedly, if need be)

As my brother pointed out when he’d finished laughing, the simplest explanations are often the right ones. Yet my brain seems determined, on occasions, to make all manner of problems which don’t exist outside of my own capacity to create them.  When confronted with something that looks like a problem, I need to prevent my inner security guard from hitting the panic button at the sight of his own shadow. 

A mantra I’ve been favouring lately is to live life as if it’s rigged in my favour.  On this occasion I did not to that, casting myself firmly as the victim of some unrevealed, sinister plot. And if I had been the victim of an as-yet undetected fraud?  Well, once proven, I could then take all the necessary precautions of changing my online security. But after doing so, I would have to move on, knowing that it could in all-likelihood happen again.  That’s life.  We can take all the steps possible to protect ourselves, but there’s no avoiding risk.  Unless you’re dead, then it’s too late to worry about anything.

Everything happens for a reason. After I flew off the handle (or knob, if you prefer), I realised I still have much to learn about keeping my mind calm, but learning I am and now I know even more about what pushes my fear buttons and how to avoid jumping off the deep end (asking the right questions, for a start).

This turn of events also gave me a chance to practice my self-compassion.  I could quite easily have denigrated myself for days over this one, but it’s much more productive to have a good laugh at myself and share my completely avoidable screw-ups with others, to hopefully make you laugh a little too.

It also gave me something to write about for this week’s blog post.  Every cloud…

So, there we have it, a whole bundle of learning experiences for me this week. 

Keep it simple, ask the right questions, don’t fill in the gaps with assumptions, definitely don’t google the answer and perhaps, try opening the box.  What’s inside might not be so bad in the golden light of day.

Failure is a great teacher, and, if you are open to it, every mistake has a lesson to offer.

Oprah Winfrey

4 thoughts on “Screw-ups: the school of life’s most successful teacher

  1. I definitely put “ the dog in dogmatic”. Really enjoyed reading this and so glad there’s a happy ending. I love how determined you are to recognise your negative tendencies and turn them into positives. We can all learn from this.

    Liked by 1 person

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