You Can Only Make Mistakes If You Try

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

This weekend, we took the motorhome for a drive. I’d like to tell you we spent the weekend relaxing in some exotic campground, surrounded by nature’s beauty. But the truth is, all we did was drive it back to the dealer for some repairs. Yes, it’s only two months old. Apparently, the people in the factory get in a hurry sometimes and … well, you know.

I knew this before we even went shopping. When you take something with all the features of a house and bounce it down the road, some things settle and others work their way loose. New RVs are notorious for this. Which means it’s not really the RV or the miles bouncing down the road or anything like that. It’s what happens in the factory on Friday afternoon. “Miller time!”

For instance, I turned on the XM radio to find there’s no signal. Apparently the antenna never got hooked up. One of the dash fans didn’t get wired up. And the cover to the wiring panel is lying loose in the electrical bay. These things don’t happen from the road. They happen simply because somebody was in a hurry and didn’t quite finish the job.

It’s funny, when I do that it’s simply a matter of oversight. I was so focused on the job that I missed one minor detail. Give me a minute and I’ll fix it. No big deal. Unless I’m putting new brakes on the car. Then it gets to be a little more serious. But most of those spare parts aren’t needed anyway. Besides, all brakes make that sound when they’re new. Trust me.

I’ve had this conversation with my wife more than once. She’s never there when I’m taking the car apart or splitting my knuckles and smashing my thumb as I gingerly fit stubborn parts together with a six-pound sledgehammer. But the minute I finish, she’s right there inspecting the box of old (and new) parts I’m getting ready to throw away. And she doesn’t miss a thing.

We all tend to cut ourselves some slack when we’ve done the best we can and still miss the mark. But when somebody else is doing the work, we’re not so forgiving. My grandson cut the grass Saturday. He even bagged up all the clippings. It looks great. Except that one spot in the corner of the driveway by the garage. Yes, I pointed it out. He said he’ll get it the next time.

Which is why the RV is sitting outside a service bay at the dealership. Somebody missed a few things, we pointed them out when we took delivery, and they said, “We’ll fix that when you bring it back in.” Who says I want to bring it back in? And I have to be honest. It’s a small list, and nothing of any real significance. Overall, they did a really good job. At least the brakes work.

It’s easy to spot the mistakes in somebody else’s work. We’re good at that. It’s even worse when the job is being done correctly, just not the way you’d do it yourself. “Why are you mowing the grass that way? It’s better if you just go back and forth!” I don’t even watch anymore. I just listen for screams. As long as he can finish with both feet intact, we’re good.

And you know, sometimes we need to be equally forgiving of ourselves. There are things I do every day that I wish I’d done a little differently. As a writer, I don’t like going back to read things I’ve previously written because invariably I find things I could have expressed differently. Not necessarily better – just different. And the more you tweak it, the more you mess it up.

We shouldn’t hold others to a higher standard than we hold ourselves, and the same is true in reverse. Perfection is an elusive and impossible goal. Sure, we should try to be the best we can, and we should expect the same of others. But that means accepting mistakes graciously – ours, and theirs.

Pick up the pieces and move on. If the Notre Dame can suffer such a devastating fire and be restored to its original glory, there’s not much in our lives we can’t fix. Dust yourself off, figure out what went wrong, and fix it. Your goals are still out there waiting. And every minute you spend crying over spilled milk is a minute you’re not moving toward them.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Grass May Be Greener, But It Still Needs To Be Mowed

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off nicely.

I woke up to the most snow we’ve seen on the ground this winter. It’s pretty, it’s white, it’s like God’s protective blanket over all the brown stuff underneath. Now it can go away. That brown stuff doesn’t need any protection. It needs sun. It’ll turn green. I’ve seen it happen.

That’s not to say we had a ton of snow on the ground. Just enough to cover it. Enough to shovel if I actually had any plans of doing that. I’ve decided I’m going to strap a snow shovel to the top of the car and drive south. The first time somebody points to it and asks, “What the hell is that?”, that’s where I’ll start looking for a new house.

For somebody who has complained about the cold every year and dreamed of the beach every day, I sure haven’t done much to move in that general direction. I blame it on my job, but I hear they have jobs in the south. I say it’s because this is where my grandkids live, but most southbound roads have northbound lanes as well. The truth is, I’ve just been making excuses.

Besides, a lot of other people my age have figured out that if you want the grandkids to visit more often, move south and buy a place with a pool. They’ll pile in faster than the mosquitoes and cockroaches that apparently are smarter than I am because they don’t live in the snow. That’s one part about living in the south that I don’t miss. But I’m sure they miss me.

When I joined the Navy, my dad told me that the best two duty stations in the world are the one you just left and the one you’re going to. There was more truth in those words than I could have imagined. For ye landlubbers, it simply means the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Or, as Erma Bombeck pointed out, it’s also a little greener over the septic tank.

Yet, as soon as we get on the other side of the fence, we find ourselves looking back and lamenting how things were so much better “back home.” It’s not that the new place is really any worse. But nothing measures up to the image we have in our mind, because we never imagine the really bad stuff. Like an online dating profile, the reality never matches the picture.

It reminds me of a quip I read once offering advice to women on the three little words that lead to a perfect marriage – lower you expectations. Men could say the same thing, but we’re not stupid enough to actually do it. Not out loud, anyway. But the point is pretty much the same. Don’t build things up in your mind so big that you set yourself up for disappointment later.

We all like to say nobody’s perfect, but we usually say that when we’re talking about ourselves. When it comes to other people and other places, perfection is pretty much expected. Anything that falls short of perfection is a deficiency to be overcome. And we’re not overly forgiving when things stay the same even though that’s the way they were long before we got there.

There’s a natural, and healthy, tendency to try to improve our circumstances. And if you move into new surroundings, a new job, or a new relationship, there’s nothing wrong with trying to make things a little better. But that doesn’t mean everybody else needs to change to meet our image of perfection. They were perfectly comfortable before we came along.

Paradise doesn’t exist in this world. Granted, there are places for each of us that come closer to meeting that definition, and this white stuff outside doesn’t do it for me. But even a sunny beach gets its share of rain. The key is to find something closer to what you truly desire and enjoy it for what it is – the good parts and the bad.

Whether it’s location, relationships, family, or job, there will always be something better or newer or shinier to capture your attention. They may offer a higher level of enjoyment, but true happiness comes from within. Find happiness where you are before you look someplace else. You may still want that other life, but without that inner happiness it’ll always fall short.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The ‘Perfect’ Time Is Now

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Until last week, I was using a desktop computer to write these posts. But my daughter works from home, and her job requires a dedicated, enclosed office. So, short of buying a new house, the only option was for us to share the office. If you’ve never tried that, let me give you the condensed version – “Dad has to find someplace else to work.”

I’m not complaining. All through life, we learn to adapt. And that’s especially true as parents. In this case, the first adaptation was my monitor sitting on the dining room table with the PC in a chair next to it. We all know how well that works, especially with young grandchildren running around the house. Finally, I bit the bullet and bought a laptop. It was inevitable.

So, now I’m trying to get used to this keyboard that was designed for somebody wearing handcuffs instead of the big ergonomic keyboard I’ve used for so many years. And yes, I know I could connect that keyboard to the laptop, but then I’d have to clear everything off the table again and have my aging eyes that much further from the monitor. Kind of defeats the purpose.

Again, we adapt. We make do with what we’ve got until a more ideal situation presents itself. For me, that situation looks an awful lot like a brand-new, sprawling desk in a corner of the basement where nobody but me will ever see it. Only one catch – I have to disassemble the gym equipment I put up for my grandson to make room for it. You know, the gym he never used.

We touched on this yesterday, but no matter what you want to accomplish, there is never a perfect time and the surrounding circumstances will always be something less than ideal. We can try to minimize the challenges to give ourselves the best possible chance of success, but the longer we wait for things to get better, the longer they’ll stay the same. Except nothing ever stays the same.

And you know how the chorus to that song begins. “As soon as …” Those three words take the heat for more unfulfilled dreams than anything in our vocabulary. “As soon as I graduate; As soon as winter is over; As soon as things at work settle down; As soon as this baby is born; As soon as we get that new house; As soon as the kids are gone; As soon as I retire.” Are you seeing a trend here?

And the trend is this – “As soon as” never happens. Because as soon as (like how I threw that in there?) one task is completed, one event is over, or one situation clears up, something else comes along to take its place. Next thing you know, you’re sitting in a wheelchair in the TV room of a nursing home saying, “As soon as I get out of here …” We all know how that story ends.

Things will never be perfect. Situations come and go, and as soon as one leaves, another one takes its place. You’ll never have the perfect combination of skills and experience. With everything in life, there comes a point where you just have to hold your nose, say a prayer, and dive in. Unless you’re a surgeon or airline pilot in a story that includes me, and then none of these rules apply.

But even the surgeon and pilot had to take a leap of faith at one point. Thankfully, they have much more experienced mentors at their side to keep them from doing something really stupid, but there’s still a very real element of risk. And whenever you put your life in their hands, you can be thankful they were willing to take that risk.

Instead of waiting for things to be perfect, assess what you’ve got right now and start putting it to use. Improve the situation as you go instead of waiting for it to change. Learn new skills on the job, find out if things work by trying them, set fears aside by working through them. Instead of striving for perfection, learn to appreciate “good enough.”

Every day you wait, life is passing you by. If there’s something you want, a burning desire so strong you can’t quench it, then get up, dust yourself off, and get started. You already have everything you need, and the situation is as perfect as it’ll ever be. The rest is simply up to you.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved