Monday, July 9, 2007

No Mistakes

I just got home from seeing the movie Evening with Meryl Streep and Vanessa Redgrave, as well as a host of other fine actors. The screenplay is based on the book, of the same name, by Susan Minot. Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours was also involved in the screenplay. This movie probably falls into the category of "chick flick" but not in the same way as most that earn this designation. It is not a boy meets girl, they fall in love, and live happily ever after movie. Rather, it is a film that, if you really watch it, asks some difficult questions.

Without giving away the entire plot, because I recommend that you see it, I will say that the overarching message is that there are no mistakes in life. For the hour or so since I left the theater, I have been pondering this.

Really? There are NO mistakes in life? What about people who are divorced? Or in prison? Did they not make mistakes of one kind or another?

At this moment, I have come to the notion that maybe there is a distinction that must be made between a mistake and a bad choice. The two really are not synonymous.

Several years ago when we took the labyrinth into a minimum security women's prison, I listened to several of the inmates as they told their stories. I realize that much of what they said may have been fiction, but nonetheless, I remember thinking that all of us are just one bad decision away from being in their shoes. That is a scary realization for someone who is such a goody-two-shoes that I feel like helping myself to free refills in a restaurant is somehow stealing. Just one bad decision away from being in prison. I suppose that some of these woman may feel that they made a mistake. For whatever reason, their life took a path that led them to prison. In an ideal world, they will learn something from the experience and return to the world outside as a person who is changed for the better. I am not a Pollyanna; I know that this is not always the case. I did say in an ideal world.

Have people who have divorced because they married the wrong person made a mistake? A bad decision? Perhaps it takes having spent time in the wrong relationship to appreciate the right one when it comes along. Again, all the experiences that we encounter on our personal journey are important to forming the person that we ultimately become. There is no guarantee that the decisions we make, even the right ones, will not be painful or difficult. They very well may be, but that does not mean that they are a mistake. In fact, it may mean quite the opposite.

As I go to bed tonight, I am reliving my 45 years asking myself, "Do you think that anything that you have done in your life was a mistake?

All of these thoughts are definitely unfiltered. (This may be translated as rambling or not well formed. ) Perhaps I should have spent more time thinking before I chose to pontificate on this whole matter. All I can hope for is that if I said something really stupid, it will be regarded as a bad choice and not a mistake.