Mistakes are often categorised as regrets over missed opportunities rather than outright cock-ups. But first up here’s some real life changing mistakes.
A Fortuitous Mistake
Everybody at the office assumes I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth and that I’ve attended university, possibly with a PhD. They’re shocked when they find out I’ve known hunger, poverty and the dark side of the streets. And here’s the reason why,
At middle school I was quite precocious, many of us were left to study and learn under our own devices outside the core lessons. I loved it. Then came the (recently formerly) grammar school and school life became regimented and boring. A good example to cite is how the English classes worked. The first lesson of the term would be taken up with handing out the books for study. A novel, some poetry and a Shakespeare play. No time for anything else. By the time of the next lesson I would have read them all two or three times and yet now had to endure twelve or more weeks of class members publicly reading the books and reaching about page fifty by the end of the term.
Other lessons were equally as bad. The physics master was starting to teach his third generation of pupils and all he wanted to do was retire.
The whole education process bored the hell out me, they destroyed any joy I might have had at structured learning.
I winged it through O-levels and up to halfway through sixth form. Then I got really bored. It was quite a short distance from the common room back to my home, so always just went home.
I made a mistake and misjudged A-levels. I could have got into a third rate university but I already knew it would be a waste of time.
Instead, I learned to work and learn the hard way, narrowly avoiding the attempt by my father to dump me into the Army.
For perhaps five years after the A-levels you would say that the loss of appetite for academic learning was the biggest mistake I would ever make. By then I’d started working with early PCs. My new found ethos of working hard at what I wanted to do began to take off.
Those events that looked like the biggest mistake ever, eventually turned into the biggest opportunity. One that’s seen me travel extensively and rub shoulders with some of the Illuminati of the computer science world.
Another Fortuitous Mistake
In writing the above another little scene came to mind from the time before I got involved in computers. I was at the time working as assistant manager in a large independent retail / wholesale outlet.
Health and Safety, working time directive ? They didn’t exist back then. A standard week was over 80 hours and 100 hours was not unheard of. I would have been tired at the time when I made the mistake that made me realise I wasn’t cut out to deal with the public.
A particularly obtuse customer was trying to get a £300 item for £10 because some other customer had moved it from one place to another. They started to become obnoxious and I lost it. I committed the cardinal sin of telling a customer to fuck off.
Of course they wanted to see the manager to complain and get me sacked. I gleefully enjoyed telling them that it was his day off. Then they demanded to see the assistant manager – “That’s me” I replied as they stormed off.
Not only did it make me realise that dealing with the public was a big mistake, it’s also the last time I truly lost my temper.
A Mistake, or not ? Regret ?
To conclude I have to touch on what may or may not have been a mistake with subsequent regrets.
Of course I am talking about melody. Were there opportunities in the last 30+ years to let her out ? Did I make a mistake in missing them ?
I was struck when reading Marie’s Overwhelming Grief post. For ‘him’ there was no grief or grieving process when my mother died. If there was any grieving process it was before she died, when she was fading away. The essential distinguishing factor with melody is that she has much more of an emotional side than ‘he’ ever did. I regret that my mother never knew me. Whether I would have been accepted and embraced is another matter. Was it a mistake to have kept the lid so tight for all that time such that I regret never knowing what my mother might have made of a daughter ?