The On Being Project

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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