Mistakes

Facing the Mistakes of Life
From The Crown of Individuality, 1909
By William George Jordan

There are only two classes of people who never make mistakes—they are the dead and the unborn. Mistakes are the inevitable accompaniment of the greatest gift given to man—individual freedom of action. If he were only a pawn in the fingers of Omnipotence, with no self-moving power, man would never make a mistake, but his very immunity would degrade him to the ranks of the lower animals and the plants. An oyster never makes a mistake—it has not the mind that would permit it to forsake an instinct.

Let us be glad of the dignity of our privilege to make mistakes, glad of the wisdom that enables us to recognize them, glad of the power that permits us to turn their light as a glowing illumination along the pathway of our future.

Mistakes are the growing pains of wisdom, the assessments we pay on our stock of experience, the raw material of error to be transformed into higher living. Without them there would be no individual growth, no progress, no conquest. Mistakes are the knots, the tangles, the broken threads, the dropped stitches in the web of our living. They are the misdeals in judgment, our unwise investments in morals, the profit and loss account of wisdom. They are the misleading bypaths from the straight road of truth and truth in our highest living is but the accuracy of the soul.

Life is simply time given to man to learn how to live. Mistakes are always part of learning. The real dignity of life consists in cultivating a fine attitude towards our own mistakes and those of others. It is the fine tolerance of a fine soul. Man becomes great, not through never making mistakes, but by profiting by those he does make; by being satisfied with a single rendition of a mistake, not encoring it into a continuous performance; by getting from it the honey of new, regenerating inspiration with no irritating sting of morbid regret; by building better to-day because of his poor yesterday; and by rising with renewed strength, finer purpose and freshened courage every time he falls.

In great chain factories, power machines are specially built to test chains—to make them fail, to show their weakness, to reveal the mistakes of workmanship. Let us thank God when a mistake shows us the weak link in the chain of our living. It is a new revelation of how to live. It means the rich red blood of a new inspiration.

If we have made an error, done a wrong, been unjust to another or to ourselves, or, like the Pharisee, passed by some opportunity for good, we should have the courage to face our mistake squarely, to call it boldly by its right name, to acknowledge it frankly and to put in no flimsy alibis of excuse to protect an anemic self-esteem.

If we have been selfish, unselfishness should atone; if we have wronged, we should right; if we have hurt, we should heal; if we have taken unjustly, we should restore; if we have been unfair, we should become just. Every possible reparation should be made. If confession of regret for the wrong and for our inability to set it right be the maximum of our power let us at least do that. A quick atonement sometimes almost effaces the memory. If foolish pride stands in our way we are aggravating the first mistake by a new one. Some people’s mistakes are never born singly—they come in litters.

Those who waken to the realization of their wrong act, weeks, months or years later, sometimes feel it is better to let confession or reparation lapse, that it is too late to reopen a closed account; but men rarely feel deeply wounded if asked to accept payment on an old promissory note—outlawed for years.

Some people like to wander in the cemetery of their past errors, to reread the old epitaphs and to spend hours in mourning over the grave of a wrong. This new mistake does not antidote the old one. The remorse that paralyzes hope, corrodes purpose, and deadens energy is not moral health, it is—an indigestion of the soul that cannot assimilate an act. It is selfish, cowardly surrender to the dominance of the past. It is lost motion in morals; it does no good to the individual, to the injured, to others, or to the world. If the past be unworthy live it down; if it be worthy live up to it and—surpass it.

Omnipotence cannot change the past, so why should we try? Our duty is to compel that past to vitalize our future with new courage and purpose, making it a larger, greater future than would have been possible without the past that has so grieved us. If we can get real, fine, appetizing dividends from our mistakes they prove themselves not losses but—wise investments. They seem like old mining shares, laid aside in the lavender of memory of our optimism and now, by some sudden change in the market of speculation, proved to be of real value.

Musing over the dreams of youth, the golden hopes that have not blossomed into deeds, is a dangerous mental dissipation. In very small doses it may stimulate; in large ones it weakens effort. It over-emphasizes the past at the expense of the present; it adds weights, not wings, to purpose. “It might have been” is the lullaby of regret with which man often puts to sleep the mighty courage and confidence that should inspire him. We do not need narcotics in life so much as we need tonics. We may try sometimes, sadly and speculatively, to reconstruct our life from some date in the past when we might have taken a different course. We build on a dead “if.” This is the most unwise brand of air-castle.

The other road always looks attractive. Distant sails are always white; far-off hills always green. It may perhaps have been the poorer road after all, could our imagination, through some magic, see with perfect vision the finality of its possibility. The other road might have meant wealth but less happiness; fame might have charmed our ears with the sweet music of praise, but the little hand of love that rests so trustingly in ours might have been denied us. Death itself might have come earlier to us or his touch stilled the beatings of a heart we hold dearer than our own. What the other road might have meant no eternity of conjecture could ever reveal; no omnipotence could enable us now to walk therein even if we wished.

It is a greater mistake to err in purpose, in aim, in principle, than in our method of attaining them…Right principles are vital and primary. They bring the maximum of profit from mistakes, reduce the loss to a minimum. False pride perpetuates our mistakes, deters us from confessing them, debars us from repairing them and ceasing them.

Let us never accept mistakes as final; let us organize victory out of the broken ranks of failure and, despite all odds, fight on calmly, courageously, unflinchingly, serenely confident that, in the end, right living and right doing must triumph.

You know what’s weird?

Aside from me not updating this blog since last October?

Back in high school, when I lived in Wisconsin, every time I found myself anywhere near the Chicago suburbs, I would imagine where the Electronic Gaming Monthly offices were, and how mind-blowingly cool it would be just to stop by and visit for day — let alone work there someday.

Fifteen or so years later, the entirety of the digital version of EGM flows through my living room, under my control and guidance, and supported by a team of some incredibly gifted friends.

Don’t give up.

Loss

Rannie Yoo (Reid, bless them) is a friend of mine, and a friend of many of my friends. She passed away last night after battling cancer.

I wrote the following earlier this year on my old 1UP blog, after my father passed away. I’m reposting it here…maybe it can help. Maybe not.

Thank you, Rannie. See you later.

* * *

You see it coming, and you think there’s still time. Time for everything you want to do, and everything you need to say. There might even be time for someone to swoop in and fix things. Heck, it wouldn’t even have to be a bona fide “miracle” – just a little help would be all right.

In the meantime, you make plans. Lots and lots of plans. Variations of plans, even. In your mind, these plans are flawless, and they will take care of everything. You’re so confident in these plans that you allow yourself to put parts of them off, or be distracted by something else — something that’s not quite so difficult to think about right now. Because after all, that thing you love is still around to love you back, and there’s still time.

But then, suddenly, there isn’t.

In a horrifying moment of stark realization, you’re speeding downhill at an alarming rate. There are no brakes, no safety belts, a wheel has come loose, and you’re not sure, but it sounds like something’s grinding. Also, you’re on fire.

Preoccupied by your distractions and plans, you didn’t realize – until now – that you’re already halfway down the hill. There is no control, no plan, and soon, there won’t be any time. And even though you saw it coming, you’re terrified.

The thing you love is not going to be there anymore, and nothing in your life could have prepared you for just how cold that makes you feel.

You blame the circumstances. Myriad causes and reasons, some known and some mysterious, that had been accumulating over time, conspiring with each other to an ultimate end. A natural decay, accelerated by compounding internal and external complications, supervised by well-meaning yet inexperienced and incapable management whose ultimate reply comes in the form of shrugged shoulders, sympathetic looks, and the phrase that defines the emotion of frustration: “there’s nothing we can do.”

This, at this moment, is entirely unacceptable. In bouts of anger you curse those who were supposed to prevent this from happening – whose jobs it was to prevent this from happening. In every action they’ve taken thus far, you perceive incompetence and missed opportunity. You remember their lies: that they’re doing everything they can, exploring all options, seeing signs of improvement, bringing in new people with better ideas, and having a good feeling that things are going to work out for the best – even if it might not be exactly the same.

While there may be nothing more powerful in this world than hope, there are few things more devastating than when that hope is false. And that’s when you see the lies of omission — what they weren’t telling you, what they say they couldn’t tell you, and when they just aren’t anywhere to be found in your time of need. For however little control is to be found in a situation like this, they’re the ones who have it, and even though your plans no longer apply, at least these professionals should have seen this coming sooner.

It might take some time, but you will realize that the lies they told were not fueled by malice, but by protection. Protection of themselves — not necessarily because they made mistakes along the way, but because nobody truly wants to be responsible for bad things. It was also protection of you, as ridiculous and insulting as that may sound, because nobody truly wants to hear bad things. And at some point in this whole process, there really may have been genuine hope, things were very close to being fixed, and miracles could have happened.

So while all of these unfamiliar feelings and notions process over and over and over again in a desperate attempt to generate something that makes sense to our earthly minds, it happens.

Just like that, you lose the thing you love.

It’s taken from you without your permission, before you decided that the time was right, and before any of your plans could be completed. In that fleeting moment immediately after it happens, everything you knew about life and your daily existence up to now disappears, and you’re left with nothing but…nothing.

Some perceive it as calm. Others call it the numbness of shock. It can even be described as peace.

Slowly but surely, those old, familiar feelings return:  grief, guilt, pain, anger, disappointment, and deep, deep sadness. But along with those also comes relief, comfort, happy memories, and even brief moments of joy.

And you realize that in that fiery piece of speeding wreckage, you weren’t alone. Not only were other people in the car with you, going through the exact same thing, there were people on the hill watching it happen. Your family, and your friends (even ones you have yet to meet). These are the people who offer the unanswerable question “is there anything I can do?” – they saw what you went through and they sympathize, either because they’ve gone down that hill before you did, or they know that one day, they’ll have to. That’s where the comfort and the joy come from – even though it felt like you may have been alone, you weren’t.

Life is all about loss. Life is nothing without loss. On this earth, time runs out for everything and everyone – if that were not the case, then there would be no point in sustaining ourselves, in developing personal relationships, in challenging ourselves and our friends to create, to succeed and make our names, to explore new places and eat delicious foods, to write our ideas for posterity and then debate them, to take pictures and home movies for the sole purpose of remembering those all-too fleeting moments.

We do all this because we know that one day we will no longer have the opportunity to do so. And every time we lose something dear to our hearts, we honor it by taking what we’ve learned from it and what we cherished about it, and carrying that on our shoulders until we, too, are lost. What we drop will be picked up by those behind us, and with so much to be happy for and proud of, there’s no room for anger or resentment.

So you say goodbye. You go to sleep, and you wake up the next day without it. And you smile, because you know that since you lost it, you will always have it.

Oh, hello.

I didn’t see you there.  Forgot I had this.  Will use it now.

These things are not accidents.

So I’m getting ready to leave work, go home, and pack for my flight back to Milwaukee tonight. The first time I’ve been back since last winter, and everything that happened.

Listening to Pandora, and Death Cab for Cutie comes on…it’s “Sarah’s Song”, from Plans, and I’m all like “oh I liked this song a lot when it came out, it was very melancholy, I remember learning how to play the piano part…”

And then he hits the last lyric, which I totally forgot about and I’m all like “…”

Nice timing. It still hurts. A lot.

New objective for this blog.

Not like I need anything else on my plate at the moment, but I’ve been thinking about what to do with this blog now that I’m officially over at G4, and I’ll have some sort of gaming blog thing going on over there at some point.

I’ll still keep this one personal, with gaming cross-posts and other ramblings about life, but I think I’ve found a new driving force. As soon as we wrap up E3 and me and the boys get settled in at the new gig, I’m going to use this space to get the Milwaukee Brewers to change their team logo.

Why, you ask?

Because the current logo:

…is boring as all get-out. And because the old logo, “Ball and Glove”:

…is one of the greatest logos not just in sports, but of all marketing (if you can’t see it, the ball glove forms an M and a B.) It just needs a modern refresh for a new era of Milwaukee baseball. With WISN’s Andy Kendeigh calling for the elimination of Retro Fridays, I get the vibe that the time is right for a grassroots campaign to take off.

The Internet can be good for this kind of stuff, so we’ll see what happens over the summer.

The first goal is to come up with a catchy name for this project. Something along the lines of “Operation <catchy name>” or “The <catchy name> Movement” that can rally support amongst Brewers fans worldwide and the local Milwaukee media.

Okay seriously it’s G4

I jumped the gun a little bit on the announcement and had to redact some information, but now it’s official!

http://g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/post/695126/Letter-From-The-Director-Nerd-Army-Additions.html

Senior Games Editor, G4tv.com, effectiiiiiiiiiive…now!


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