We are all human and have made many mistakes in our lifetimes. Every mistake—small or large—has the potential to result in catastrophic consequences. Recently, a young woman in Dallas exited a small private plane and inadvertently stepped into a spinning propeller. This was a small mistake in that she was preoccupied and for just a microsecond her attention wandered. In another sense it was obviously a large mistake because the consequences were disastrous; she lost one eye, the side of her face and one arm.
Almost any mistake can be defined not by size, but by how bad the consequences are. A shopper in a mall was walking along the aisle between the stores while looking down to carry on a texting conversation. It was hilarious to watch when the footage was posted on You Tube and showed the shopper walking directly into the reflecting pool set in the middle of the mall’s first floor. Being totally absorbed in texting was a small mistake that would have been a large one if the person involved had been driving a car instead of walking and collided with another vehicle.
And some mistakes are impossibly large to begin with and yet the consequences are small. Many years ago, I purchased a Swedish made automatic pistol. Being Swedish, it was very complicated with a number of different safety devices built in to ostensibly assure the gun couldn’t fire accidentally. I immediately took the pistol to my dad’s house to show it to him. We were sitting at the kitchen table while I was demonstrating how the unfamiliar gun worked when it accidentally went off. The slug dug a hole in the tabletop and careened off it to lodge in the ceiling. The bullet struck the tabletop approximately one foot to the left of where my dad was sitting.
This was a huge mistake in that the gun was loaded to start with and also that I did not know how to handle it properly. The consequences were small in that my father wasn’t wounded or killed—an outcome too terrible to contemplate—and I learned lessons that have stuck with me throughout the years.
My life is full of small and large mistakes and I find myself unconsciously revisiting them from time to time. The list of mistakes is long and the results could have been much worse that they were. I have been incredibly lucky in that the consequences have always been small and I realize I have done nothing to deserve this good fortune. At these times I fervently give thanks. I don’t know if I am thanking God, Karma or the universe-at-large. I am simply giving thanks in the best way I can.
While it is certainly not necessary to wait until Thanksgiving Day, it does provide an excellent venue for me to stop, reflect and realize how fortunate I have been and give sincere and heartfelt thanks.