Lots and Lots of Practice

Where would the world be without second chances?  Few things are ever accomplished as well as they could be done on the first attempt.  Painting beautiful art, sculpting a striking statue, creating a melodic song, proficiency at a profession, learning how to build a loving relationship, recovering from difficulty, living a good life….all these things take lots and lots of practice to do them well!

It is the imperfection of the world that creates the myriad of beauty within it.  The unique differences work together to create a beautiful quilt of varied color, texture, behavior and expression.  We live in a far from perfect world and without second chances you and I would not exist.  The power beyond me or Nature if you prefer to call it did not get everything just right on the first try.  It is out of failure and imperfection that fruitful creation is made.

With trial and error I have concluded the main difference between an obstacle and an opportunity is my attitude.  If I think I can’t or don’t want to, I create an obstacle.  If I think I can and want to, I create an opportunity.  As the saying goes “whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right”.

Here are a few thoughts about second, third, fourth and additional chances:

1 – Put what is behind me, behind me.  The past never goes away completely, but how much space it takes in my present is my choice. A good start to a second chance is getting past the past.  I tell myself things like “no, I am not going to think about that” or “stop it, you can’t change any of that” or “it will never make sense, so stop trying to figure it out”.  Does it work every time?  No!  But it does work better and better the more I practice it.

2 – Learn the life lesson and move on.  Repeating the same behavior and expecting different results is said to be a form of insanity.  One way I stopped some of the craziness in my life was to stop and learn what life was trying to teach me.  What good are second, third and more chances if I screw them up the same way as I did before?  If nothing else pain in great enough amounts can become a good teacher if the student is paying attention to life.  One only fails when they stop trying.

3 – Be responsible for myself.  I had to stop blaming others. When I realized that no one made me do anything, it was an eye opener.  Long I had said things like “she made me mad” or “he made me feel bad”.  In reality I choose what goes on inside me or at the very least how long a particular feeling or thought lasts is my choice.  No matter how much someone hurt me in the past, if I am still being hurt by something that happened long ago I am the culprit hurting me now.  The haze of applying responsibility to others for what I am responsible for wastes every additional chance as if it never existed.

4 – Attitude is everything.  If I go expecting bad things to happen, life will rain crap on me every day of my life.  It’s the law of attraction.  Absolutely life is difficult, but it always has been so that should be no surprise to anyone.  To the best of my ability I try to amplify the good and diminish the bad.  The more “good” I expect the more of it comes my way.

5 Know what I can change and what I can’t.  The serenity prayer says it all “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”.   Applying a second chance to something I can’t change is akin to beating my head against the wall:  it gets me nowhere except to a headache.

6I have to know what I want.  Without knowing what I want and need in my life, my existence is like that of a ball in a pinball machine bouncing endless from bumper to bumper with no direction.  Deep down we all know what we need and want.  If I let fear of change stop me from accepting my needs, I will be destined to repeat unsatisfying behavior over and over and over.  I make lots of lists of what I think I need and want and the top stuff always emerges  given enough time.  What good are second chances if I don’t know what to do with them?

7 – Self control is critical.  If I can not get myself to do what I need to do, life can become hopeless.  I am a normal person (well, mostly) and no matter how much control I achieve, my life will always be lived in a somewhat of an out of control manner.  That is a big part of the human experience.  Yet, with trial and error, over and over, the self-control I need to make a good life has become possible.  Without the ability to direct myself a second chance withers without use.

8 – Pay little attention to what others think.  Yes, it’s hard to ignore that others have to say, especially those I care about.  However, until I learned to be true to myself and stop listening to others so much I usually wasted my additional chances in life.  There is only one way I know to change the world and that is to change me and by example inspire others to grow and change. Any new chance at something is my gift and belongs to no one but me.  I don’t give them away any more!

For all of the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth…..one hundredth, one thousandth chances life has given me I am very grateful.

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
Maria Robinson

First posted December 15, 2011