I’ve made lots of mistakes. Far too many to list. And I’m guessing you have too.
Clearly, mistakes are common. I discerned this from all the ways we have to refer to them: blunders, gaffes, slip-ups, lapses, miscalculations, faux pas, missteps, to name a few. But no matter what we call them, these errors in judgement tend to cause upset, anxiety, and shame.
I’ve never met anyone who enjoyed making mistakes, and people generally do all they can to avoid booboos, especially in public. While it’s one thing to scratch the wrong number on your Tax Return and get that letter from the Internal Revenue Service, the consolation is your screwup is just between you and them. Okay, maybe that’s a bad example, because no one wants to be in that particular pickle, but I think most people would admit that it’s those public flubs that keep us up at night.
I’ll give you an example. Many years ago when I was a baby baseball umpire, there was a runner on third base who decided to steal home. The pitch ricocheted from the bat to the catcher’s glove and he squared to tag the runner out at the plate. What did I do? I called it a foul ball, which killed the play. (A foul tip, which would have kept the ball live and in play, was the correct call.) Understandably, the coaches were furious, as were the fans. I couldn’t have been more wrong, but according to the rule book there was no way to fix it. Still, do you think in my 25 years of officiating baseball, I ever made that mistake again? No, I did not!
So here’s the thing, unless you’re a surgeon or an airline pilot, mistakes are nothing but teachable moments. They force us to learn and grow. Keeping with the sports theme, players learn little from a big, lopsided win. It’s from losing, or dropping a pass, or whiffing on at that low outside pitch with the bases loaded that help players up their game.
The other side of the oops issue is how we react to our screwups. Most of us have witnessed someone who’s gone off the rails after making a mistake. You know the type. The people who immediately blame others for their blunders. The old childhood adage, “He made me do it!” comes to mind. And while standing up and admitting our errors is never easy, I’ve learned that after the initial discomfort taking the blame can be cathartic.
So the next time you find eyes on you accusingly when you’ve flubbed something up, consider a simple and direct response: “I’m sorry. I’ll do better next time,” for example. Or smile and try to find some humor in the situation. Making your meaculpa has the added effect of taking the pressure off of others, allowing everyone to regroup and move forward.
The biggest problem caused by fear of mistakes is that it can keep us from trying new things. But consider where we’d be if Thomas Edison—the Daddy of the Lightbulb—had ceased his experiments when he repeatedly erred in figuring out the proper material for his filament. He claimed to have tried 2,000 different substances before he got it right. Over the course of his inventing career, Edison said he never failed. He just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.
The point is don’t worry about making mistakes. As Albert Einstein said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” So now let’s all standup straight and get out there and do things. And, when you err, don’t try to hide your bungle. Smile and take ownership. Then go forth and do better.
Ancient ruins, haunted memories, and a ruthless criminal combine with a touch of mystic presence in this taut mystery about a crime we all must address.
Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense
September 13, 2021
Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—a six-hundred-year-old pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.
One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.
Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.
One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target. In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.
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