Learning from My Mistakes

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 1:16 pm

Learning from My Mistakes

I’d like to get ahead of the curve, so I’ve already started to think about my new year’s resolutions for next year. Or, as I like to call them, “Well-Intended Fantasies About How I Can Become a Better Person That Will No Doubt Fizzle Out Sometime Around January 3.” WIFs for short.

According to the people closest to me, I am a candidate for many forms of self-improvement. I can’t really argue with these people — if I did, I might be deprived of vital services. So, in an earnest effort to change my life before my WIFs expire, here is a poem by Portia Nelson called “Autobiography In Five Short Chapters.” In the following year, I’m hoping to get, oh, I don’t know… Maybe to the end of Chapter 3?

“Autobiography In Five Short Chapters”
by Portia Nelson

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
     There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
     I fall in.
     I am lost....I am helpless.
          It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two
I walk down the same street.
     There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
     I pretend I don't see it.
     I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in this same place.
          But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street.
     There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
     I see it is there.
     I still fall in...it's a habit...but,
          my eyes are open.
          I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
     There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
     I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.

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Contributor

is a columnist for On Being. His column appears every Wednesday.

He is a Quaker elder, educator, activist, and founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal. His books include A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, and Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. His book On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old will be published in June.

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Reflections

  • Patrick Leclercq

    Did it take me a decade for one chapter ?

    • kel

      <3