It's not just you… we all have our moments

It's not just you… we all have our moments

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mistakes Are Like Birds - Set Them Free

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When I was little, I adopted a parakeet named Blinky.  I learned very quickly I am not a bird person.  This little asshole was pissed and eager to take his aggressions out on every one's fingers.  Blinky had to go, and what better person to give him to than my ninety year-old grandfather with paper thin skin, who was so old his blood lacked the coagulants necessary to clot, and every little paper cut ended up hemorrhaging?  Yeah, sounds like the perfect candidate for parakeet ownership.

It only took one small peck that nearly resulted in a trip to the hospital for Pop to learn that Blinky was best handled with gardening gloves.  I guess I probably should have drawn the same conclusion before getting rid of him, but I was eleven.  Pop had years of life experience on me.  Plus, he was an electrical engineer, so there's that.

Blinky was one of my earliest mistakes, and I'm inherently predisposed to abort my mistakes, but Pop took a different approach.  In his innate wisdom, he surmised that my bird's surly behavior was rooted in unhappiness and an aversion to captivity.  This understanding allowed Pop to look his villain in the eye with sympathy instead of contempt, and he decided to have an aviary built for his disgruntled friend.

Delighted by his new freedom, Blinky dropped the attitude and began to lighten up.  Some even say they saw him smile, though I think that's a dirty lie.  He did, however, seem less inclined to bite your hand off when you tried to hold him, almost as if he was - dare I say - happy.

Similarly, I find when I'm able to see the mistakes I've made in the same light my Pop saw Blinky, I'm able to loosen my grip on them and, like Blinky, I begin to feel happier and lighter.  Being unforgiving of myself for the mistakes I've made in my life is akin to constructing my own cage - and it's an uncomfortable, restrictive place to live.  But when I understand that I'm just a silly human and I'm going to make a mess, mistakes seem less villainous.

Also, purging myself of them and hanging on a public cross seems to help.  For example:  Del Taco and Jack in the Box.  The combination of the two, always together, effectively helped me reach my goal weight of 174 pounds my Freshman year of college.  I've always been a big overachiever, and the Freshman 15 is fucking child's play.  Anyone can eat a Del Classic Chicken burrito, but it takes a whole other skill set to pair it with an Oreo Cookie Shake - namely courage, intestinal fortitude, and commitment - and repeat this behavior no less than three times a week.

One prescription for Prozac and membership at Weight Watchers later, I was back to my pre-college weight, but it's cool… I totally love myself.  I wouldn't trade a single stretch mark for that experience. Not.  A.  Single.  One.

The catharsis I feel having shared this story has lightened it's load, so-to-speak.  I just gave my little mistake wings and set it free.  In fact, I'm so happy right now, I'm actually crying - tears of joy.  I'm definitely not having feelings of anxiety and shame over publicly confessing a weight I've hit in my lifetime.  If I were a boxer, I'd have qualified as a Light Heavyweight, and I'd be so proud.  So, so proud…

Nope.  Fuck everything I said.  This feels horrible.